Saudi J Gastroenterol 2019 Mar-Apr;25(2):73-80
Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Jeddah; Liver Disease Research Center, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains a public health problem worldwide. In this review, we aim to assess the current situation of the HBV care pathway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), identify gaps/barriers therein, and recommend initiatives to be taken to improve the management of such patients. Towards this end, a literature search was conducted in PubMed and free Internet searches. Interviews with individuals and focus group discussions were held with HBV experts in KSA. Although significant improvements have been made in the past 30 years in KSA in terms of the decline in prevalence (currently estimated to be around 1.3%), the morbidity and mortality related to the disease have not shown a parallel decline. This makes HBV an important public health concern. Furthermore, poor disease awareness, low diagnosis rates, and nonadherence to therapy amplify the disease burden. There are several mandated national screening structures present; however, established protocols for those who test positive and subsequent linkage-to-care are inadequate. In the absence of a virologic cure, a concerted effort should be made to provide safe and effective lifelong treatment. This review provides recommendations to reduce the HBV disease burden in the Saudi population.