Claus Niederau, Katholisches Klinikum Oberhausen GmbH, St. Josef Hospital, Klinik für Innere Medizin, Akademisches Lehrkrankenhaus der Universität Duisburg-Essen, 46045 Oberhausen, Germany.
This review analyzes progress and limitations of diagnosis, screening, and therapy of patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. A literature review was carried out by framing the study questions. Vaccination in early childhood has been introduced in most countries and reduces the infection rate. Treatment of chronic hepatitis B can control viral replication in most patients today. It reduces risks for progression and may reverse liver fibrosis. The treatment effect on development of hepatocellular carcinoma is less pronounced when cirrhosis is already present. Despite the success of vaccination and therapy chronic hepatitis B remains a problem since many infected patients do not know of their disease. Although all guidelines recommend screening in high risk groups such as migrants, these suggestions have not been implemented. In addition, the performance of hepatocellular cancer surveillance under real-life conditions is poor. The majority of people with chronic hepatitis B live in resource-constrained settings where effective drugs are not available. Despite the success of vaccination and therapy chronic hepatitis B infection remains a major problem since many patients do not know of their disease. The problems in diagnosis and screening may be overcome by raising awareness, promoting partnerships, and mobilizing resources.