13. What are the consequences of chronic HBV infection?
The hepatitis B virus can stay in the liver
quiescently, indefinitely and cause no further inflammation in some
people. Those people are called carriers. Although they are asymptomatic, carriers
remain at risk for liver cancer and are capable of transmitting the
disease. So a lot of the people walking around will
have normal liver enzyme tests but could be carrying the
virus. They are a little bit of a time bomb for
themselves and for the rest of the population. A lot of these people who developed or
acquired hepatitis at birth walk around with huge viral counts of like
fifteen million viral particles per cc of blood and you can imagine the potential
infectivity of a patient like that to their wife, to their family, or
other contacts. The virus may continue to aggressively
replicate and cause continuing damage leading to fibrosis, cirrhosis,
and a high rate of cancer in part of the population and then you have
the other part that are carriers. But it’s constantly switching
over. So a person could by an asymptomatic
carrier, particularly again in the Asian population and then suddenly for an assortment of
reasons, the virus starts to attack the liver and they go from being
what they thought was an asymptomatic carrier to someone at risk for
12. Who is at risk for chronic hepatitis B?
14. Are there treatment options for advanced liver damage due to chronic HBV infection?