Hepatitis B Virions
On 17th April, ELPA hosted a workshop at the EASL Liver Congress in Vienna (Austria). The symposium tackled an explosive and yet underexplored topic: “Controlling the killer virus: Adherence in hepatitis B”. Treatment adherence is the key strategy to keep a chronic hepatitis B infection under control: Adherence means that patients manage to stay on their treatment, even though they do not feel any difference.
Among hepatitis B patients who need medication, the vast majority take nucleosides or nucleotides (“Nucs”). Nucs come in pills, have few side effects, and at first sight, treatment looks very easy. However, drop-out rates of 10 % every year tell a different, frightening story. As treatment goes on for years, and sometimes indefinitely, many patients find it difficult to remember their daily pills. “Medication holidays” allow the hepatitis B virus to mutate and become resistant to the drug. This may cause the disease to slowly get worse, or even cause a very aggressive liver inflammation that can lead to death by liver failure.
How can we improve adherence? How can HBV patients be motivated to stay on their drugs and keep it as a part of their daily routine? How can we prevent unneccessary deaths and the threat of mutated viruses? Targeted programmes are neccessary to support doctors and patients alike. Speakers from UK and France presented their experience; in addition, an unprecedented German adherence project called “B-Achtung” (~ “A-ttention”) was presented at the workshop.
You can find the report from the ELPA workshop here.