What's new? | HBV

Readers may notice some significant changes in this edition of the National Hepatitis B Testing Policy, which is now prefaced by an Executive Summary. This provides a brief synopsis of the contents, giving readers the opportunity to focus on the sections of interest without having to read the entire document.

The Introduction (1.0) includes the latest epidemiological information, outlines the targets set by WHO and is consistent with The Third National Hepatitis B Strategy. A change to The Diagnostic Strategies (2.0) diagrams illustrating testing for suspected acute and suspected chronic hepatitis B have been modified to incorporate the recommendation for hepatitis D virus (HDV) testing for individuals who have been found to be hepatitis B surface antigen positive. HDV requires the presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection for its replication and co-infection leads to more severe liver disease. Globally it affects around 12 million people but currently is probably under diagnosed. In this section we also report on the availability of a rapid, point-of-care test for HBV DNA. This test should be helpful in many situations, especially in remote locations in regional Australia, where it could be used to determine eligibility for therapy as well as for monitoring responses to therapy. Several updated guidelines and strategies that are directly relevant to the Testing Policy have been published since the last review and the respective sections have been modified to reflect the changes. These include Healthcare Workers (7.0) - Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Healthcare Workers Living with Blood Borne Viruses and Healthcare Workers who Perform Exposure-Prone Procedures at Risk of Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses (2019); Antenatal and Perinatal Testing (8.0) - Management of Hepatitis B in pregnancy. Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Guidelines (2019); Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (10.0) - The Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Virus & Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2018-2022 (2018).

All sections of the Policy have been reviewed by the Expert Reference Committee and refined and updated where required. Repetition has been minimised and some rearrangements have been made to improve readability and consistency.