Hep B Blog

Tag Archives: Adults

Preparing for College, Dating and Disclosing Hepatitis B

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When my daughter, who has chronic hepatitis B, packed for her freshman year of college, I peppered her with warnings about the need for standard precautions and condoms. I suggested wording for a future conversation where she would disclose her infection and negotiate safe sex with a potential partner.

I hoped these verbal dress rehearsals would empower and protect her, especially if that potential boyfriend turned her down. I wanted her to know that any rejection would not be about her or her hepatitis B, it would be about his fears. Continue reading "Preparing for College, Dating and Disclosing Hepatitis B"

Four Things Fathers Affected by Hepatitis B Can Do for Themselves and Their Families

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Father’s Day, June 21, is a day to celebrate the contributions men make in their children’s lives. It’s also a good day for fathers to acknowledge how valuable they are to their families and how important it is to take care of their health.

Living with chronic hepatitis B can be challenging. Here are some things dads can do to take care of themselves or family members infected with hepatitis B.

1. Get outside and soak in some sunlight and some vitamin D. People with hepatitis B who have vitamin D deficiencies have higher rates of liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer. A healthy diet provides vitamin D, but 80 percent of our vitamin D comes from 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight two to three times a week. So get outside and walk, garden, exercise and soak in some healthy sunlight.

Continue reading "Four Things Fathers Affected by Hepatitis B Can Do for Themselves and Their Families"

The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 2

1716136dfa105e7f9bdf96de16e31742You can’t neatly package and control everything, but you can use good judgment and not over react when thinking about hepatitis B transmission. HBV is not casually transmitted, but you know yourself, and both infected and uninfected individuals can take simple precautions. If you don’t have hepatitis B and you are sexually active, make sure you are vaccinated. If you have HBV, encourage your partners to get vaccinated.

(Click here if you’re looking for Part 1) Continue reading "The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 2"

The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 1

1716136dfa105e7f9bdf96de16e31742All pun and a little fun is intended with this title, but the “adult” version of hepatitis B transmission is a serious concern. There are “shades of gray” when it comes to hepatitis B transmission and the degree of risk with sexual activity. Continue reading "The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 1"

HBV Journal Review – December 2013

HBF is pleased to connect our blog readers to Christine Kukka’s monthly HBV Journal Review that she writes for the HBV Advocate. The journal presents the
latest in hepatitis B research, treatment, and prevention from recent academic and medical journals. This month, the following topics are explored: Continue reading "HBV Journal Review – December 2013"

Entecavir + Tenofovir Works Well for Hepatitis B Patients with Prior Treatment Failure

Published on Monday, 11 November 2013
Written by Liz Highleyman
HIVandHepatitis.com

A dual regimen of entecavir (Baraclude) plus tenofovir (Viread) for 48 weeks led to virological response and was generally well-tolerated as second-line therapy for chronic hepatitis B patients who had failed previous nucleoside/nucleotide treatment, according to a poster presentation at the 64th AASLD Liver Meeting last week in Washington, DC. Continue reading "Entecavir + Tenofovir Works Well for Hepatitis B Patients with Prior Treatment Failure"

Diagnosed With Chronic Hepatitis B? What Phase – HBeAg-Positive Chronic Hepatitis / Immune Reactive / Immune Clearance?

In the last chronic hepatitis B stages blog, we looked at the HBeAg-Positive Chronic Infection (formerly known as immune tolerant).

At some point the immune system recognizes the hepatitis B virus and the chronically infected person will enter a phase referred to as the  HBeAg–positive chronic hepatitis- (previously known as immune reactive/immune clearance). During this phase blood work will show that you are HBeAg positive, with lower levels of HBV DNA when compared to the HBeAg-positive chronic infection/immune tolerant stage, and increased ALT (SGPT) levels. (Remember, it is not at all unusual for kids to have viral loads in the millions or even billions.) During this “clearance” phase the immune system is actively attacking infected liver cells. This is both good and bad. On the good side, if the immune system is able to “beat” the virus, the person will go through HBeAg seroconversion and lose the HBeAg antigen. This means that HBeAg will go from positive to negative and the HBeAb antibody, or anti-HBe will go from negative to positive.  This results in significant decrease in the hepatitis B virus level, often to an undetectable level, and normalization of ALT/AST liver enzymes and other liver function blood test results. Successful HBe serconversion moves you into the HBeAg-negative chronic infection/inactive carrier phase.

When the immune system activates and starts attacking infected liver cells, it not only kills the virus, but also the host liver-cells. You may not feel any of this, but your ALT (SGPT) and AST (SGOT) lab values will be elevated. These enzymes are released when there is inflammation caused by liver cells that are injured or killed.  Your doctor may see a mild, moderate or high levels of ALT elevation reflecting inflammation in the liver. Ultimately the problem is how much inflammation and liver damage occurs during the process of HBeAg seroconversion?

It is possible a person will quickly and spontaneously move into and out of the HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis/immune reactive phase, and with a limited amount of inflammation and liver damage. However, some people may cycle up and down for years with intermittent flares, which are evidenced by ALT elevations which may be as high as 10 times above the upper limits of normal (normal is 35 IU/mL for men and 25 IU/mL for women) when in the immune reactive phase.  While the immune system attacks infected liver cells, viral replication will decrease and ALT levels will elevate as infected liver cells die in the battle.  If successful, the immune system response will result in HBe seroconversion –  losing HBeAg, gaining the HBe antibody, and a decline of the viral load  (HBV DNA) to very low or undetectable levels, and the normalization of ALT/AST and other liver enzyme levels.

Unfortunately, that might not be enough, and the immune system may not be able to put up a big enough fight permitting HBe seroconversion to a less active or HBeAg negative chronic infection /inactive carrier phase. Evidence of this is ALT levels that go back down, and viral replication that goes back up. (Note the above diagram.) This cycling up and down over time will be reflected in lab work if a liver specialist monitors you regularly over time. If you are not having your ALT levels regularly monitored (every few months), then you may miss these cycles of intermittent elevations or flares over time. It is during these elevations that liver damage occurs, and you will likely be completely unaware, unless you have lab work done while liver enzymes are elevated, or you wait until there are symptoms and significant liver damage.

It is during the immune clearance phase when treatment is sometimes recommended. It is true that a chronically infected person will eventually serconvert HBe spontaneously – without treatment, but most liver specialists choose to treat in order to prevent years of ALT elevations and flares and subsequent damage to the liver.

If you appear to be in the HBeAg-Positive Chronic Hepatitis / Immune Reactive phase, be sure you continue with regular monitoring with your doctor and don’t be afraid to ask questions about your hep B infection and the health of your liver.

 

Kudos to HBF’s Blog Voted as a “Sexual Health Top 10, Must Read Blog”

The team at Health Express has voted HBF’s blog as one of the “Must Read Blogs of 2013 – Sexual Health Top 10!”  HealthExpress.co.uk is an online clinic that provides support, advice and treatment for common medical conditions that patients do not always feel comfortable talking about. You can take a look at their recommended Top 10 blogs and learn more about them at healthexpress.co.uk.

The accolades from the HealthExpress team are a great opportunity to review transmission of the hepatitis B virus. HBV is transmitted through infected blood and body fluids. This includes direct blood-to-blood contact, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected woman to her newborn baby at birth.  Sharing sharp, personal items that may have trace amounts of blood on them such a razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers and body jewelry including earrings, can also spread the virus.  Remember that the HBV virus may live up to a week on a surface resulting in possible transmission through direct blood-to-blood contact. This is why close, household contacts or family members are at greater risk of infection if one or more members are living with HBV. Don’t forget to be sure your tattoo or piercing experience is safe and that the parlor carefully follows infection control practices. Hepatitis B is also 50-100 times more infectious than the HIV virus.

Hepatitis B is also a sexually transmitted disease and is spread through infected semen, vaginal fluids and any blood that may be exchanged as part of a sexual practice – most often through sexual intercourse. In the United States, sexual transmission is the most common mode of HBV transmission and is responsible for 2/3 of acute HBV infections. A common question is “what about oral sex?” In general, oral sex would be considered less risky, but any kind of intimate sharing that may result in the exchange of bodily fluids will present some degree of risk.

So how can you prevent hepatitis B transmission between sexual partners? Fortunately there is a safe and effective hepatitis B vaccine to protect against the spread of HBV.  Get screened for HBV and vaccinate to protect – especially if you or your partner has more than one sexual partner, or if one or more partners is at greater risk.  When in doubt, get screened. Keep in mind that HBV is referred to as a “silent infection” since it may take decades for symptoms to occur. People with chronic HBV may be completely unaware of their infection and inadvertently spread HBV to their partner(s) if precautions are not taken.

Other precautions include practicing safe sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom. A lambskin condom will not prevent the spread of hepatitis B or other viral STDs. Looking for condom details?

A general comment to those with multiple sex partners– We are very fortunate to have a vaccine to protect against the hepatitis B virus. However, practicing safe sex with an effective condom is always advised to prevent the transmission of other infectious diseases that are not vaccine preventable, such as HCV and HIV, along with condom use to prevent the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases. Use common sense. No one wants a sexually transmitted disease, and if you have HBV, you really don’t want a coinfection. It can really complicate your life.

High HBV Viral Load Tied to Low Serum Vitamin D Levels

An interesting study published in Healio Hepatology:  “High HBV viral load tied to low serum vitamin D levels” discusses the relationship between the HBV viral load and vitamin D levels. In fact is shows seasonal fluctuations of HBV viral load associated with vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has been on the radar for years, but this interesting correlation between HBV virus flucuations and vitamin D levels warrants additional research to investigate how adequate vitamin D levels can positively impact treatment for those living with chronic HBV. Please refer to earlier blogs, Hepatitis B and Vitamin D and Got HBV? Adding Vitamin D to Your Diet for additional information.  As always, please talk to your doctor and have your serum vitamin D levels checked before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplements you may be taking. Don’t forget that vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, so be sure to keep in mind the impact of the seasons on your levels. 

Patients with chronic hepatitis B who also were vitamin D deficient had significantly higher HBV DNA levels than patients with adequate vitamin D concentrations in a recent study.

In a retrospective study, researchers measured the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) in 203 treatment-naive patients with chronic hepatitis B seen between January 2009 and December 2012. Patients with 25OHD levels less than10 ng/mL were considered severely deficient, levels below 20 ng/mL were considered deficient, and levels of 20 ng/mL or greater were considered adequate. Patients’ samples were collected upon initial presentation, except 29 participants whose samples were taken at antiviral therapy initiation.

The mean 25OHD concentration for the cohort was 14.4 ng/mL. Forty-seven percent of participants were considered 25OHD deficient; 34% were severely deficient. 25OHD levels were similar between Caucasians (14.38 ng/mL) and non-Caucasians (14.59 ng/mL) (P=.7).

An inverse correlation was observed between levels of HBV DNA and 25OHD (P=.0003). Multivariate analysis indicated that HBV DNA was strongly predictive of low 25OHD levels (P=.000048), and vice versa (P=.0013). Patients with HBV DNA levels less than 2,000 IU/mL had 25OHD concentrations of 17 ng/mL; those with 2,000 IU/mL or higher had concentrations of 11 ng/mL (P<.00001 for difference). Participants who tested positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg; n=26) had significantly lower 25OHD levels than HBeAg-negative participants (P=.0013); this association was significant only under univariate analysis.

Investigators also noted fluctuations in HBV DNA and 25OHD levels according to season. Significantly lower HBV DNA levels were observed among samples taken during spring or summer than in autumn or winter (P=.01).

“The present study demonstrates a profound association between higher levels of HBV replication and low [25OHD] serum levels in chronic hepatitis B patients,” the researchers wrote. “At least in patients without advanced liver disease … HBV DNA viral load appears to be the strongest determinant of low [25OHD] serum levels. … Future studies to evaluate a therapeutic value of vitamin D and its analogs in HBV infection may be justified.”