It is well established that hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation is common among patients with various hematological or neoplastic diseases who receive chemotherapeutic agents without appropriate antiviral prophylaxis and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. A number of recent studies have indicated that treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents in patients with autoimmune/rheumatic diseases carries a similar risk. Furthermore, appropriate pre-emptive treatment with oral antivirals appears to significantly reduce that risk and should be routinely implemented in clinical practice. Similar data are available for B-cell depleting agents like rituximab from the hematology literature, indicating the need for a similar approach in patients with autoimmune diseases receiving such agents.
Copyright © 2011 European Federation of Internal Medicine. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.