NIH to hold press conference on
October 22 following Consensus Development Conference
on Management of Hepatitis B
Panel will weigh the benefits and harms of management
Hepatitis B is a major cause of liver disease worldwide,
ranking as a substantial cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Approximately 1.25 million people are chronically infected
with the virus in the United States, resulting in 3,000 to
5,000 deaths each year. The incomplete understanding of the
natural history of the disease, coupled with multiple conflicting
guidelines, make the management of this complex disease challenging.
These issues will be addressed at the upcoming NIH Consensus
Development Conference: Management of Hepatitis B, October
Following two days of expert
presentation, weighing of evidence, and audience commentary,
the panel will present their statement at 9 a.m. on Wednesday,
October 22. The statement will provide the panelís assessment
of what we know and what we need to learn to effectively
manage hepatitis B across diverse patient groups. A press
conference will follow at 2 p.m.
Reporters registering for the conference as media will
receive the conference panelís draft consensus statement
and a press release highlighting their findings on Oct.
22 as soon as they are available. Register online by visiting http://consensus.nih.gov.
The conference presentations, open discussions, and the
panelís statement will focus on these questions:
- What is the current burden of hepatitis B?
- What is the natural history of hepatitis B?
- What are the benefits and risks of the current therapeutic
options for hepatitis B?
- Which persons with hepatitis B should be treated?
- What measures are appropriate to monitor therapy and
- What are the greatest needs and opportunities for future
research on hepatitis B?
Press conference | Wednesday, October
22 — 2 p.m.
Monday, October 20, 2008 — 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 — 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 — 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
All sessions are free and open to the public.
||NIH main campus or online (http://videocast.nih.gov/):
Attend the press conference in person at the Natcher Conference
Center, NIH Main Campus - Building 45, 9000 Rockville Pike,
Bethesda, Maryland 20892; or participate remotely via the
webcast at http://videocast.nih.gov.
Reporters will have the opportunity to submit questions via
e-mail beginning at 1:30 p.m. on October 22.
Campus visitor information (http://www.nih.gov/about/visitor/index.htm)
Although an effective hepatitis B vaccine
is available, it does not protect those who already have
the infection. Chronic hepatitis B occurs more frequently
in high-risk groups, including Asian-Americans, emigrants
from areas of the world where hepatitis B is common (China,
Korea, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and
Micronesia), men who have sex with men, injection drug users,
and recipients of blood and blood products before screening
procedures were implemented in 1986. In non-protected individuals,
transmission can result from exposure to infectious blood
or body fluids containing blood. A major impediment to diagnosis
is that many infected individuals are either asymptomatic
or experience only non-specific symptoms of disease, such
as fatigue or muscle ache.
For approximately 90 percent of adults, acute infection
with the hepatitis B virus is resolved by the bodyís immune
system, and does not cause long-term problems. The transition
from acute to chronic infection appears to occur when the
immune system does not effectively destroy and clear virus-infected
cells. This leads to persistently detectable hepatitis
B DNA and antigens in the blood, as well as antibodies
produced by the body in an attempt to combat the infection.
Questions remain as to which groups of patients benefit from
therapy and at which point in the course of their disease.
Specific recommendations for hepatitis B therapy are limited
by a lack of reliable long-term safety and efficacy information.
This is a difficult decision for physicians and patients, as
treatments are expensive and may have bothersome, if not harmful,
effects on patients; left untreated, however, chronic hepatitis
B can lead to liver failure and other serious liver problems.
The conference is presented through the NIH
Consensus Development Program. A fact sheet describing the
conference process and additional hepatitis B resources are
available at http://consensus.nih.gov/forthemedia.htm.
A systematic literature review on the management of hepatitis
B has been prepared under contract with the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The executive summary
will be released on October 22 at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/hepbtp.htm;
the full report will be available online shortly thereafter.
|For More Information:
||Conference agenda, speakers, logistics, and
online registration are available at http://consensus.nih.gov.
Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible
for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers.
This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and
activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also
includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific
areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.