Hepatitis B virus infection

Lancet. 2009 Feb 14;373(9663):582-92. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60207-5.


Since the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine and other preventive measures, the worldwide prevalence of hepatitis B infection has fallen. However, chronic infection remains a challenging global health problem, with more than 350 million people chronically infected and at risk of hepatic decompensation, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. An improved understanding of hepatitis B virology, immunology, and the natural course of chronic infection, has identified hepatitis B virus replication as the key driver of immune-mediated liver injury and disease progression. The approval of potent oral antiviral agents has revolutionised hepatitis B treatment since 1998. Conventional and pegylated interferon alfa and nucleoside and nucleotide analogues are widely authorised treatments, and monotherapy with these drugs greatly suppresses virus replication, reduces hepatitis activity, and halts disease progression. However, hepatitis B virus is rarely eliminated, and drug resistance is a major drawback during long term therapy. The development of new drugs and strategies is needed to improve treatment outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / economics
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines*
  • Hepatitis B virus* / immunology
  • Hepatitis B virus* / pathogenicity
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / physiopathology
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Replication / physiology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Interferon-alpha