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Israr Ahmad, Kafeel Ahmad, Ijazul Haque Taseer, Waqaruddin Ahmad, Javed Iqbal Farooqi and Obaid Ullah

Abstract

Background

Hepatitis B envelope antigen (HBeAg)-negative chronic hepatitis B virus (CHB) infection is a clinical entity refractory to treatment and has implications for disease outcome.

Objectives

To determine the frequency of HBeAg-negative CHB in untreated hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients.

Methods

We conducted this cross-sectional study of untreated HBsAg-positive patients from 3 cities in Pakistan for more than 6 months.

Results

Of495 patients, 276 (47.7%) had detectable hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA (mean 5.3 ± 1.96 log10 copies/mL), 81 (16.4%) were HBeAg positive and 414 (83.6%) were HBeAg negative. All 81 (100%) HBeAg-positive patients had detectable HBV DNA. Frequency of HBeAg-negative CHB infection was 155 (31.3%) among HBsAg-positive patients. One hundred and sixteen (74.8%) of the HBeAg-negative patients with CHB infection were in the age range of 15–35 years.

Conclusions

HBeAg-negative patients constitute a considerable proportion of patients with CHB infection. HBsAg-positive patients, especially with younger age, should be thoroughly investigated for this entity to avoid the devastating long-term complications of this disease.