March 13, 2015
1 min read

WHO issues first-ever HBV treatment guidelines

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The World Health Organization has issued guidelines for the first time for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus infection, according to a news release from the organization.

“Deciding who needs treatment for hepatitis B depends on a number of factors,” Stefan Wiktor, MD, leader of the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Program, said in the release. “These new guidelines, which give treatment recommendations that rely on simple, inexpensive tests, will help clinicians make the right decisions.”

Stefan Wiktor, MD

Stefan Wiktor

The guidelines, entitled “WHO guidelines for the prevention, care and treatment of persons living with chronic hepatitis B infection,” lay out a simplified approach to the care of people living with chronic HBV, particularly in settings with limited resources, according to the release. Important recommendations mentioned in the release include: the use of a few simple non-invasive tests to assess the stage of liver disease to identify who needs treatment; prioritizing treatment for those with cirrhosis; use Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, Gilead Sciences) or Baraclude (entecavir, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries) for the treatment; and monitor patients for early detection of liver cancer to determine if treatment is working and if treatment can be stopped. 

Tenofovir or entecavir are the preferred drugs for treating HBV because there is a very low risk of developing drug resistance, are easy to take as one pill once a day, have few adverse events, are inexpensive and available as generics, according to the release.

“Because for so many people treatment is life-long, it is important that patients can access these medicines at the lowest possible price,” Wiktor said.

For testing, WHO recommends two non-invasive tests to determine liver disease stage to help identify who may need to begin therapy; the aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index test and transient elastography, also known as FibroScan (Echosens).

WHO issued the first-ever treatment guidelines for HCV during a press conference at the 2014 International Liver Congress, the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver.

For More Information: View the guidelines at