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Stanford researchers find way to fight treacherous hepatitis B
Date:10/1/2007

STANFORD, Calif. - One in four people who are chronically infected with hepatitis B will die from its impact if untreated, but a team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has identified the most cost-effective way of fighting this treacherous infection.

Those infected with hepatitis B often don't know it, because they can go without symptoms for years. Looking at adults in the U.S. group most likely to be infected with hepatitis B - Asians and Pacific Islanders - the Stanford researchers created a mathematical model that found the most effective strategy is to screen this group to identify those who are chronically infected.

Those who are infected require lifelong management, including screening for liver cancer and possible treatment with antiviral medication. Their findings will be published in the Oct. 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than AIDS and about 10 times more prevalent worldwide, striking Asia particularly hard. One out of every 250 people in the United States has chronic hepatitis B infection, but studies estimate that among foreign-born Asians, the rate is one in 10.

"I don't want to tell any more 30-year-olds that they are going to die and there is nothing I can do," said Samuel So, the Lui Hac Minh Professor and a professor of surgery, one of the study authors.

Chronic hepatitis B infection often has no symptoms until it causes liver cancer or, after years of attack by the patient's immune system, causes so much scarring of the liver that it fails. And the infection often strikes young, otherwise healthy adults. About 60 to 80 percent of liver cancer worldwide is caused by chronic hepatitis B infection, according to World Health Organization estimates.

So founded the Asian Liver Center at Stanford more than a decade ago to educate, vaccinate and screen thousands of people vulnerable to hepatitis B infection in the San F
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Contact: Mitzi Baker
mabaker@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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