Universal testing for hepatitis B must be accompanied by better linkage with care

Lien Tran and Benjamin C Cowie
Med J Aust 2023; 218 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51848
Published online: 6 March 2023

Comprehensive testing, monitoring, and treatment in primary care could save hundreds of Australian lives each year

Tens of thousands of Australians have undiagnosed chronic hepatitis B, most since infancy.1 Chronic hepatitis B is an important cause of cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. In eligible patients, antiviral therapy can prevent progressive liver disease and reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, but this potentially lifesaving therapy is not provided to people with clinically silent disease if a hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) test is not undertaken. In 2012, liver cancer was the most rapidly increasing cause of cancer deaths in Australia.2

  • 1 WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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