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Alan Franciscus
HCV Advocate

Monday, May 6, 2013

Preimmunosuppresive hepatitis B screening often goes by the wayside

NEW YORK – While nowadays there is less likelihood that the hepatitis B virus causes rheumatic disease, major changes in epidemiology and drug therapy, especially the use of immunosuppressives, have made reactivation of the virus during the course of rheumatic disease treatment a major public health concern, according to Dr. Leonard H. Calabrese. 

"HBV reactivation has been well known in cancer and transplantation but is now really coming to the fore in autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. It may be mild (asymptomatic viremia) or severe (fulminant liver failure and death) and has been observed in patients with both chronic infection or resolved disease. While it is largely preventable, unfortunately many physicians who regularly prescribe immunosuppressive therapies – including rheumatologists, oncologists, gastroenterologists, and dermatologists – do not recognize this potential," Dr. Calabrese said at a meeting sponsored by New York University.

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