Background: In 2004, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
Purpose: To update the 2004 USPSTF review on screening for HBV infection in adolescents and adults.
Data Sources: MEDLINE (through January 2014), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and PsycINFO.
Study Selection: Randomized trials of screening and treatment and observational studies of screening or the association between intermediate and clinical outcomes after antiviral therapy.
Data Extraction: One investigator abstracted data, and a second investigator checked them; 2 investigators independently assessed study quality.
Data Synthesis: No study directly evaluated the effects of screening for HBV infection versus no screening on clinical outcomes. Vaccination against HBV infection was associated with decreased risk in high-risk populations. On the basis of 11 primarily fair-quality trials, antiviral therapy may be more effective than placebo for reducing the risk for clinical outcomes associated with HBV infection. However, differences were not statistically significant. On the basis of 22 primarily fair-quality trials, antiviral therapy was more effective than placebo for various intermediate outcomes, with limited evidence that first-line antiviral agents are superior to lamivudine. Antiviral therapy was associated with a higher risk for withdrawal due to adverse events than placebo, but risk for serious adverse events did not differ.
Limitation: Only English-language articles were included, clinical outcome data for antiviral therapies were limited, and several studies were done in countries where the prevalence and natural history of HBV infection differ from those of the United States.
Conclusion: Antiviral treatment for chronic HBV infection is associated with improved intermediate outcomes, but more research is needed to understand the effects of screening and subsequent interventions on clinical outcomes and to identify optimal screening strategies.
Primary Funding Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.