Hepatitis B Screening Endorsed Pre-Immunosuppressive Tx

Antiviral tx recommended to prevent reactivation for those found to be hepatitis B surface antigen-positive

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- All patients undergoing chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapies should undergo routine screening for active or prior hepatitis B viral infection, according to research published in the February issue of Hepatology.

Adrian M. Di Bisceglie, M.D., from the St. Louis University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the data underlying hepatitis B virus reactivation, which may occur with immunosuppressive therapies in benign or malignant disease.

The researchers note that the data support the recommendation for screening for active or prior hepatitis B viral infection by testing for hepatitis B surface antigen and the antibody to hepatitis B core antigen in serum for all patients undergoing chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or solid organ transplantation. To prevent reactivation, appropriate antiviral therapy should be started by those found to be hepatitis B surface antigen-positive. In certain circumstances, even those who have recovered from hepatitis B will benefit from antiviral therapy because of the risks associated with a form of hepatitis B virus reactivation known as reverse seroconversion.

"There is good evidence to support routine screening of all patients for hepatitis B prior to undergoing chemotherapy or immunosuppressive treatment; use of prompt antiviral treatment appears to diminish the risk of severe or fatal reactivation of hepatitis B," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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