The aim of the study was to evaluate the characteristics of chronic hepatitis B with special reference to the geographical origin of the patients and to the prevalence of HBeAg and viral and non-viral co-factors of liver disease. A crosssectional multicenter survey was undertaken, which enrolled 1,386 HBsAg chronic carriers observed consecutively in 21 referral centers over a 6-month period. The prevalence of HBeAg in patients was 11%; the presence of HBeAg was associated independently with a younger age and co-infection with HIV. Anti-HDV, anti-HCV, or anti-HIV antibodies were detected in 8.1%, 6.5%, and 2%, respectively. However, among the patients first diagnosed during the study period (incident cases), 14.3% were anti-HDV positive. Seven percent of the patients were immigrants; they were younger than Italian patients and 18% wereHBeAgpositive; no differencewasobserved in the prevalence of anti-HDV, anti-HCV, or anti- HIV antibodies. The presence of cirrhosis was associated independently with an age >52 years, the presence of anti-HDV or anti-HCV, alcohol use >4 drinks/day, and a high BMI. The clinical epidemiology of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection shows a dynamic profile, with the potential for re-emergence of cases with HBeAg or anti-HDV and an emerging impact of metabolic factors on the evolution of liver disease
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