The Asia-Pacific Expert Committee on Hepatitis B Management recently reviewed the impact of hepatitis B in the region and assessed the differences and similarities observed in the practical management of the disease in individual Asia-Pacific countries. Hepatitis B is a major health concern in the Asia-Pacific region, and of all chronically infected carriers worldwide, approximately 75% are found in Asia. The disease poses a considerable burden on healthcare systems, and is likely to remain a cause of substantial morbidity and mortality for several decades. Disease prevention activities, including screening and vaccination programs, have been implemented successfully in some Asia-Pacific countries and similar measures are being established in other parts of the region. The management of hepatitis B in the Asia-Pacific varies throughout the region, with each country confronting different issues related to treatment options, disease monitoring and duration of therapy. The influence of cost, availability of diagnostic equipment, and patient awareness and compliance are of additional concern. Although guidelines such as those developed by the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver have been created to address problems encountered in the management of hepatitis B, many physicians in the region still find it difficult to make satisfactory management decisions because of the treatment choices available. This article examines the different approaches to hepatitis B management in a number of Asia-Pacific countries, and highlights the difficulties that can arise when adhering to treatment guidelines and disease prevention solutions that have proved to be successful in the region.
Large volume of new data on the natural history and treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection have become available since 2008. These include further studies in asymptomatic subjects with chronic HBV infection and community-based cohorts, the role of HBV genotype/naturally occurring HBV mutations, the application of non-invasive assessment of hepatic fibrosis and quantitation of HBV surface antigen and new drug or new strategies towards more effective therapy. To update HBV management guidelines, relevant new data were reviewed and assessed by experts from the region, and the significance of the reported findings was discussed and debated. The earlier "Asian-Pacific consensus statement on the management of chronic hepatitis B" was revised accordingly. The key terms used in the statement were also defined. The new guidelines include general management, indications for fibrosis assessment, time to start or stop drug therapy, choice of drug to initiate therapy, when and how to monitor the patients during and after stopping drug therapy. Recommendations on the therapy of patients in special circumstances, including women in childbearing age, patients with antiviral drug resistance, concurrent viral infection, hepatic decompensation, patients receiving immune suppression or chemotherapy and patients in the setting of liver transplantation and hepatocellular carcinoma, are also included.