Hepatitis B

Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine for over 20 years now, HBV-infection remains an important health problem. More than two billion people worldwide have been in contact with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and around 400 million are chronically infected. The annual number of deaths from HBV-associated liver disease - mainly cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - is more than 800,000. An estimated 0.4% of the Dutch population, about 64.000 persons, are chronically infected with the virus. The treatment of chronic HBV-infection has much improved over the past decades. With interferon alpha still the only registered treatment option for hepatitis B in the early 1990s, the list of registered medications now includes seven drugs: interferon alpha, lamivudine, adefovir, peginterferon alpha, entecavir, telbivudine and tenofovir. No doubt many other drugs will follow within the next few years. The clinical scientific research in our department has a special focus on treatment of chronic hepatitis B.