Research provides an evidence base for the development and implementation of policies and programs at all levels of the national response to chronic hepatitis B.
Limited data are available on the impact of chronic hepatitis B, and how the communities most affected respond to the infection. The evidence base for an effective public health response to the epidemic will be established through well-conducted national and international research and surveillance, including the collection of data on deaths.20
Acute and chronic hepatitis B infection cases are routinely notified through public health surveillance systems with limited demographic information. These cases are forwarded to the Australian Government’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System for collating and national reporting.
Notifications of newly acquired hepatitis B underestimate the true incidence of the infection, while notifications of unspecified or chronic cases underestimate the burden of disease related to hepatitis B. This mechanism is also poor in reporting country of birth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status.
Priority actions in surveillance and research
- In the context of the development of a surveillance plan for the five national BBV and STI strategies, develop a national hepatitis B surveillance strategy, under the supervision of the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia.
- Improve reporting of country of birth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status on routine hepatitis B notifications.
- Encourage prioritisation within national research funding bodies of socio-behavioural and clinical research to identify the barriers to testing and accessing treatment.
- Encourage prioritisation within national research funding bodies of basic science research to improve understanding of hepatitis B pathogenesis, identify biomedical markers for disease progression and antiviral drug resistance.
- Investigate the establishment of a national database to track antiviral drug resistance, including clinical correlates.
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20 Amin J, Law M, Bartlett M, Kaldor J & Dore G, ‘Causes of death after diagnosis of hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection: a large community-based linkage study’, The Lancet, 2006.