Background: The incidence of acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the United States is declining, and precise epidemiology for newly acquired infection remains obscure.
Goals: We sought to clarify the clinical presentation and management of acute symptomatic HBV infection at a hepatology referral center.
Study: We prospectively evaluated the demographic, epidemiological, clinical, and treatment data of 32 patients with acute symptomatic HBV who were referred to a single urban tertiary care hospital in the United States.
Results: Slightly more than half of the patients were male (53%) or belonged to the black race (53%) and slightly fewer than half of the patients (47%) were unemployed. The median patient age was 41.9 years, and 20 (63%) patients were unmarried. The most common HBV risk factor was a new sexual partner over the previous months (34%). Fifteen percent of the patients reported no known risk factors. Four (13%) patients were diabetic. Presenting symptoms included jaundice (75%), abdominal pain (63%), and marked fatigue (59%). The mean peak for aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase was 1822/2109 IU/L, for total bilirubin was 12.6 mg/dL, and for International Normalized Ratio was 1.53. Eight patients (25%) were started on oral nucleot(s)ide therapy. One diabetic patient underwent liver transplantation.
Conclusions: In a sample of patients from a US urban tertiary hepatology center, common epidemiological features of acute symptomatic hepatitis B were being middle aged and unmarried and having acquired the infection through a new sexual contact. Antiviral therapy was sometimes but not commonly started. These data reinforce the need for HBV vaccination of individuals at risk, including those not traditionally targeted.