News from Hepatitis Week of August 3, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 31

Study: Hepatitis B Genotypes Vary by Region and Ethnicity in United States

Hepatitis B genotypes vary in the United States depending on the region of the country where the patient resides and on the patient's ethnic background, according to a study reported in the August issue of Gastroenterology.

The type of Hepatitis B virus that one has is believed to dictate the severity of the patient's liver disease and how the patient is likely to respond to treatment.

The study involved 694 chronic hepatitis B virus-infected patients who sought treatment in 17 liver centers in the United States during a one-year period. The researchers collected demographic, clinical and laboratory data on the patients and tested them for their hepatitis B genotype.

All 7 HBV genotypes, A through G, were found, with genotypes A and C being the most common. The prevalence of genotypes was different in different regions of the United States. A strong correlation was found between genotypes and ethnicity.

Genotype A was prevalent among white and black patients, while genotypes B and C were most common among Asian patients.

The predominant genotype for patients born in the United States was A, for patients born in Europe D, for patients born in the Far East C, and for patients born in Southeast Asia B. Genotypes A and C were associated with a higher prevalence of hepatitis B e antigen.

The researchers said their findings suggest that the hepatitis B virus infection in the United States may have changed over time as a result of immigration from countries where there is a a high prevalence of infection.

Other sources: Gastroenterology 2003 Aug;125(2):444-51