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.
Acta gastro-enterologica Belgica 03/2012; 75(1):35-41. · 0.64 Impact Factor