HealthDay News — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is recommending hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening for high-risk adults, according to a draft recommendation statement.

Researchers from the USPSTF conducted a systematic review of the current evidence on the benefits and harms of screening for hepatitis B virus infection in asymptomatic, nonpregnant adults. The researchers found that there was no direct evidence on the effects of screening versus no screening on clinical outcomes.

However, in high-risk populations, HBV vaccination was associated with decreased risk of virus acquisition. There was evidence that antiviral treatment was effective for improving intermediate outcomes in patients with chronic HBV infection, and that antiviral regimens improved health outcomes.

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“The good news is that evidence shows we can catch the disease early in many people who are already infected by screening for hepatitis B virus infection in persons at high risk for infection,” Douglas K. Owens, MD, said in a statement. “And, treatment can help prevent liver cancer in people who have chronic hepatitis B infection.” 

Given the accuracy of the screening test and the evidence of antiviral effectiveness, the USPSTF concluded that screening offers moderate benefit for populations at high risk of HBV infection (Grade B recommendation). The draft recommendation statement is available for comment until March 10, 2014.


  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Nonpregnant Adolescents and Adults: Draft Recommendation Statement. AHRQ Publication No. 12-05172-EF-2. Availabe at: