Hep B Blog

Tag Archives: Vaccines

World Hepatitis Day: Preventing Hepatitis B in New York City

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 10.22.51 AMBy Vivian Huang, MD MPH,
Hepatitis B Program Director
at the Charles B Wang Community Health Center, NYC

World Hepatitis Day is commemorated on July 28 every year.  The date was selected to honor the birthday of the Nobel Laureate Professor Baruch Blumberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus. Continue reading "World Hepatitis Day: Preventing Hepatitis B in New York City"

Expert Calls for Viral Load Testing in All Pregnant Women with Hepatitis B

Dr. Ravi Jhaveri, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, talks to parents.
Dr. Ravi Jhaveri, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, talks to parents.

Today, all pregnant women are routinely screened for hepatitis B, but a growing number of doctors say this single test doesn’t go far enough to protect the health of women and children.

In a commentary published in the medical journal Pediatrics,  infectious disease specialist Dr. Ravi Jhaveri calls for a mandatory second test in pregnant women infected with hepatitis B. This test would measure the amount of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in her body (called viral load).

When women have high viral loads, their newborns can become infected even if they are immunized at birth and treated with HBIG (hepatitis B antibodies) to prevent infection. Continue reading "Expert Calls for Viral Load Testing in All Pregnant Women with Hepatitis B"

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"

The World’s Second Deadliest Cancer Is …Preventable

bandages

Liver cancer is the world’s second leading cause of cancer deaths, according to the latest World Cancer Report 2014 released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). About 800,000 deaths per year are related to liver cancer. Continue reading "The World’s Second Deadliest Cancer Is …Preventable"

Rallying Call

livercancerconnect.org
livercancerconnect.org

 

Welcome to the newly launched blog from Liver Cancer Connect, the Hepatitis B Foundation’s dedicated program on liver cancer. The blog will focus on issues that affect families facing liver cancer.

On the recent World Cancer Day 2014, we ushered in the new year with both sobering news and some optimism.

First the sobering news. The American Cancer Society recently reported1 that the number of new cases of liver cancer and the number of deaths due to this disease continue to increase.

The rate of liver/bile duct cancer has risen by 3% to 4% per year and mortality by about 2% over the past 2 decades. In sharp contrast, the death rate for all cancers combined has been steadily declining over the same period and the number of new cases has decreased for most cancers.

Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world, and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. In fact, every 30 seconds, one person in the world dies of liver cancer.

Yet liver cancer is largely preventable!

Eliminating the main risk factors for liver cancer — chronic hepatitis B and C infections and fatty liver disease — can stop the development of liver cancer.

Chronic hepatitis B and C infections, which cause about 85% of liver cancers worldwide, are preventable and treatable. A safe vaccine against hepatitis B (the world’s first anti-cancer vaccine) has been available since 1986. And while a cure is not yet available, hepatitis B infections can be kept under control with effective treatments. There is no vaccine yet for hepatitis C, but it can be cured. And fatty liver disease can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and diet.

Equally important in preventing liver cancer are screening and surveillance, which help to find the cancer early. Screening is the first test that a person undergoes to detect either an increased risk for liver cancer or the actual presence of the cancer. Surveillance refers to the regular monitoring for liver cancer on a ~6-month basis.

Early detection increases the number of treatment options available and the chances of successful treatment. A targeted oral therapy called Nexavar (sorafenib) is currently approved for liver cancer in more than 70 countries, and researchers are looking for new ways to fight liver cancer with fewer side effects. Many of these potential new treatments are being studied in clinical trials.

So there is room for optimism. With greater public awareness of the risk factors and how to prevent them, and new therapies being developed, it is possible to reverse the bleak statistics for liver cancer.

With the rallying call, “Liver cancer is preventable!” Liver Cancer Connect is putting the spotlight on the prevention of liver cancer.

Our patient-focused website (www.livercancerconnect.org) explains the main risk factors for liver cancer and the importance of screening, surveillance, and early intervention. Over the next few months we will be expanding the resources on the website and bringing you more news and information on liver cancer. We encourage you to explore the website and send us your comments.

1. Siegel R, Ma J, Zou Z, Jemal A. Cancer Statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin 2014 (epub ahead of print).

Study Suggests Vaccine and HBIG Ineffective at Preventing “Occult” Hepatitis B in Babies Born to Infected Mothers

— Christine M. Kukka, Project Manager, HBV Advocate

A new study suggests for the first time that the combination of the hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG (hepatitis B immune globulin) may be ineffective in preventing “occult” hepatitis B in babies born to mothers infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). An occult infection occurs when a person tests negative for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)—considered an essential antigen building block for HBV—while testing positive for HBV DNA. When this occult infection occurs, researchers suspect the HBsAg has somehow mutated so conventional lab tests can’t identify it. Continue reading "Study Suggests Vaccine and HBIG Ineffective at Preventing “Occult” Hepatitis B in Babies Born to Infected Mothers"

HBV Journal Review – September 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:

  • 39.2% of U.S. Newborns Aren’t Getting Hepatitis B Vaccine at Birth
  • Researchers Suggest Banning or Restricting Lamivudine to Avoid Drug Resistance
  • Knowledge Gap About Hepatitis B Persists Among Asian-Americans
  • Even Liver Specialists Fail to Immunize Patients Against Viral Hepatitis
  • Many Seek Viral Hepatitis Tests Only When Symptoms Appear
  • After Six Years of Tenofovir Treatment, Still No Signs of Drug Resistance
  • More Studies Examine Link Between Vitamin D and Liver Damage
  • Study Examines Which Hepatitis B Patients Relapse with Chemotherapy
  • Interferon Treatment May Cause Some Hearing Loss
  • African-Americans Suffer the Highest Rates of New HBV Infections in the U.S.

HBV Journal Review
September 1, 2013
Volume 10, Issue 8
by Christine M. Kukka 

 

 39.2% of U.S. Newborns Aren’t Getting Hepatitis B Vaccine at Birth

Which newborns aren’t getting immunized against hepatitis B in the U.S.? The infants who:

  • • Do not have health insurance
  • • Live in states without a universal hepatitis B vaccine supply policy
  • • And have only one provider who administered vaccines.

According to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, published in the August issue of the journal Preventive Medicine, an alarming 39.2% of newborns missed the first, critical birth dose of hepatitis B vaccination that can protect newborns from hepatitis B even if their mothers are infected.

These results come from data analysis of the 2009 National Immunization Survey of 17,053 U.S. children, aged 19-35 months.

“Children who reside in states without a universal hepatitis B vaccine supply policy, and are not covered by health insurance are two important modifiable risk factors for not receiving the birth dose hepatitis B vaccination, future intervention studies could be needed to help control those modifiable risk factors,” CDC researchers wrote.

Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23988497

Researchers Suggest Banning or Restricting Lamivudine to Avoid Drug Resistance
A global team of researchers suggest lamivudine (Epivir-HBV) never be used to treat hepatitis B patients because it frequently leads to drug resistance and sets the stage for resistance to other antivirals, such as entecavir (Baraclude).

Lamivudine, the first antiviral approved for hepatitis B treatment, has fallen out of favor in North America and Europe because of its high rate of drug resistance. But because of its low cost, it continues to be commonly used to treat hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in Asia and Africa, where the majority of the world’s hepatitis B patients live.

This report, published in the July 30 issue of PLoS One, examined the molecular make-up of the virus in many patients who had been treated with lamivudine as well as patients who had never been treated. They found the many untreated patients carry a mutation that allows HBV to quickly mutate and develop resistance to lamivudine.

“Our findings strongly suggest that the use of lamivudine will not benefit …patients,” they wrote because of the high risk of lamivudine resistance.

“Finally, since patients can quickly develop drug resistance to entecavir in the presence of lamivudine mutations, the lamivudine mutations can significantly compromise the efficacy of entecavir,” they concluded.

They proposed that doctor screen patients for these mutations before ever prescribing lamivudine,”… to most effectively treat chronic hepatitis B patients by selecting only sensitive drugs.” …

Continue reading about this and additional HBV related studies

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.

Checking In On Your Hepatitis B Related 2013 Resolutions

It’s week two of 2013.  How are your New Years’ Resolutions going?  When you were making your resolutions, did you consider hepatitis B specific New Year’s resolutions?  Here are a few ideas…

  • Organize your hepatitis B lab data and make a table with the date of the blood draw and the associated blood test results. You’ll want to start by requesting copies of all of your labs from your doctor. Then you can generate data tables using Excel, Word or a pencil and paper table for your charted data.  It will help you visualize your HBV over time, and you may find your doctor likes to see both the lab results and your table of results.
  • Generate a list of questions for your next appointment with your liver specialist.  People get nervous anticipating what their doctor might say about their health. It is very easy to forget those important questions, so be sure to write them down. If the option is available, have a family member or friend attend the appointment with you. That will allow you to pay closer attention while your friend or family member takes notes for you.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol. Hepatitis B and alcohol is a dangerous combination. An annual toast to the New Year? Sure. Drinking daily, weekly or even monthly? Not a good idea.  Binge drinking? Dangerous. A recent study shows an increased risk for liver cancer among cirrhotic patients with HBV. Don’t let it get that far. If you have HBV and you are still drinking alcohol, seek the help you need to stop.
  • Exercise. Many people think that having a chronic illness precludes them from exercise. This is rarely the case, but if you have concerns, talk to your doctor. If you consistently exercise, keep up the good work. If you don’t, please start slowly and work your way up to a more strenuous routine, and follow general physical activity guidelines for adults. Join a gym or find an exercise buddy. Don’t compare yourself to others and work at your own pace. Set realistic workout goals. You don’t need to run a marathon. Brisk, daily walking is great, too. You may find that you experience both physical and emotional benefits, and if you exercise with friends, you’ll also benefit socially. Clinical and experimental studies show that physical exercise helps prevent the progression of liver cancer and improves quality of life. Get moving. It’s good for your overall health and specifically your liver!
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet. This is a favorite on the New Year’s Resolution list for just about everyone with or without HBV. You can’t prevent or cure HBV with a healthy diet, but it does help, and it helps prevent additional problems like the onset of fatty liver or diabetes. If you’ve been following trending health problems, then you are well aware that fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes are huge problems in the U.S. and are growing issues globally. Both fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes can often be prevented with a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you are overweight, or make unhealthy choices, make a commitment to change this year. Start by avoiding fast foods, and processed foods. Cut down on fatty foods. Reduce the amount of saturated fats, trans fats and hydrogenated fats in your diet. Saturated fats are found in deep fried foods, red meats and dairy products. Trans and hydrogenated fats are found in processed foods. The liver stores excess dietary fat, and which can eventually lead to fatty liver disease. A fatty liver slows down the digestion of fats. If you have hepatitis B, you want to avoid any additional complications that may arise with fatty liver disease. Diabetes and HBV together can also be very complicated.  Your doctor won’t mind if you try to avoid “white foods”, or foods that that are white in color and have been processed and refined. This includes foods like white flour, rice, pasta, bread, crackers, cereal, simple sugars and high fructose corn syrup.  (Feel free to eat plenty of white cauliflower, turnips, white beans, etc) Avoid sugary treats and drinks. So what should you eat? Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains and lean meats.  Go back to the basics! If you have specific questions about your diet, be sure to talk to your doctor.
  • Don’t worry, be happy… Easy to say, but not so easy to accomplish. Anxiety and depression associated with a chronic illness are challenging problems that may be short term, or can worm their way into nearly every aspect of your life. They can even create physical symptoms that may be confusing and may result in even more worry. Please talk to your doctor if you believe your anxiety or depression is something you are unable to manage on your own. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others facing the same challenges. Personally I found the Hepatitis B Information and Support List a wonderful source of information and support. Chronic illness can feel very lonely – especially with a disease like HBV that has a stigma associated with it. Find a trusted confident with whom you can share your story.