A new recommendation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that all adults should be screened for hepatitis B at least once in their lifetime, a disease that is linked to liver disease. and cancer.
The agency estimates that between 580,000 and 2.4 million people are living with hepatitis B, known as HBV, and two-thirds may not know they are infected. Many people infected with hepatitis B clear the virus, but acute infection can lead to chronic hepatitis B, which is linked to increased risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis. People with chronic hepatitis B are 70-85% more likely to die prematurely.
“Chronic HBV infection can lead to substantial morbidity and mortality, but is detectable before the development of severe liver disease using reliable and inexpensive screening tests,” the agency said in a statement. report released on Thursday.
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids, which can occur through sexual intercourse, injection drugs, or during pregnancy or childbirth.
The previous CDC recommendation was made in 2008 and urged people at high risk to get tested. The agency now recommends screening for everyone age 18 and older at least once. The agency continues to recommend that pregnant women be screened during every pregnancy, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or tested in the past. People at high risk, including those who are incarcerated, have multiple sexual partners, or have a history of hepatitis C infection, should be tested regularly.
he symptoms of acute hepatitis B infection may include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice, among others; These signs can take months to appear and can last for weeks or months, but most people clear the infection. People who progress to chronic hepatitis B often feel fine and have no symptoms, sometimes for decades. But if symptoms do appear, they may resemble acute infection and may be a sign of advanced liver disease.
There are several drugs available to treat people with chronic hepatitis B. There is also a very effective vaccine against hepatitis B.
“Although a curative treatment is not yet available, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic HBV infections reduce the risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death,” the CDC said. “In conjunction with vaccination strategies, universal adult screening and appropriate testing of persons at increased risk for HBV infection will improve End-shutdown outcomes, reduce the prevalence of HBV infection in the United States, and advance elimination goals.” of viral hepatitis”.