[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nationwide studies are mandatory to assess changes in the epidemiology of HBV infection in Europe.
To describe epidemiological characteristics of HBsAg-positive patients, especially inactive carriers, and to evaluate how practitioners manage HBV patients in real life.
Belgian physicians were asked to report all chronically infected HBV patients during a one-year period.
Among 1,456 patients included, 1,035 (71%) were classified into one of four phases of chronic infection: immune tolerance (n = 10), HBeAg-positive hepatitis (n = 248), HBeAg-negative hepatitis (n = 420) and inactive carrier state (n = 357 HBeAg-negative patients with ALT <upper limit of normal (ULN) and HBV DNA <2,000 IU/mL). Using less restrictive criteria for ALT (1-2 ULN) or HBV DNA (2,000-20,000 IU/mL), 93 unclassified patients were added to the group of inactive carriers. These 93 additional inactive carriers were younger, more frequently males, with similar risk factors for HBV infection and histological features compared to inactive carriers according to recent guidelines. Recent guidelines on management of HBV patients were generally followed, but systematic HBV DNA measurements and HDV co-infection screening should be reinforced.
In Belgium, an inactive carrier state was a common form of chronic HBV infection. Using less restrictive criteria for classification of inactive carriers did not modify their main characteristics and seemed better adapted to clinical practice. Recent guidelines on management of HBV patients should be reinforced.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large multicenter trial to compare the efficacy of peginterferon alfa-2a with interferon alfa-2a, in combination with ribavirin, in chronic hepatitis C patients. Efficacy data for prior relapsers are reported because treatment recommendations for this patient population are not well defined.
This study was a multicenter, prospective, randomized clinical trial. The primary efficacy endpoint was sustained virologic response in naive patients (n = 348) and relapsers (n = 95).
Sustained virologic response rates were similar in naïve patients and relapsers, both for non-pegylated and pegylated interferon (respectively 27 and 26% and 54 and 43%). Pegylated interferon given for 48 weeks did not improved the relapse rate: 15.9 and 27.3% for non-pegylated and 16.7 and 30.4% for pegylated interferon, naïve vs relapsers respectively. Stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed a significant association between slow response (detectable HCV RNA at week 12 and undetectable at week 24) and relapse in patients with an end-of-treatment response (55% versus 13% respectively; p = 0.02; odds ratio = 6.07).
This trial confirms the value of using peginterferon alfa-2a in both naïve and relapsed patients and provides support for a more tailored approach to treatment for relapsers and particulary for patients with a slow viral response.