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Screening for hepatitis B may be cost-effective for more of the population, analysis shows
Date:5/3/2011

CINCINNATIHepatitis B virus (HBV) continues to be a major health issue in the United States despite prevention strategies.

Now, research at the University of Cincinnati (UC) provides evidence that current prevention and screening standards are worth the cost and may even need expansion to include more of the population, further helping prevent the spread of this life-threatening disease.

The findings are published in the May 3, 2011 advance online edition of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Mark Eckman, MD, UC Health physician and professor of medicine, and co-investigators Tiffany Kaiser, PharmD, research assistant professor of medicine, and Kenneth Sherman, MD, PhD, director of the UC digestive diseases division, found that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guideline to screen populations with a prevalence of more than 2 percent is cost-effective.

"Furthermore, screening of adults in the United States in lower-prevalence populations is also likely to be cost-effective, which could mean that current health policy should be reconsidered," says Eckman.

HBV causes liver injury. The infection can be spread through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluids and other body fluids of someone who already has an HBV infection.

Most of the damage from the virus occurs because of the way the body responds to the infection. When the body's immune system detects the infection, it sends out cells to fight it off. However, these disease-fighting cells can lead to liver inflammation.

"The recent Institute of Medicine report on hepatitis and liver cancer notes that up to 2 million Americans are chronically infected with HBV, although 75 percent of people or more may not know their status and are diagnosed with the disease late; chronic HBV infection leads to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer," Eckman and colleagues say. "While previous analyses have focused on preventi
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Contact: Katie Pence
katie.pence@uc.edu
513-558-4561
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Source:Eurekalert

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