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Impact of anti-HDV reflex testing at HBs antigen positive discovery in a single center France: Support for primary HDV screening in France.

BACKGROUND: Hepatitis Delta virus (HDV) infection is a major cause of liver-related morbidity and mortality in patients infected with HBV, with a global HDV prevalence uncertain. In France, 2 to 5 % of HBs antigen (HBsAg) carriers present anti-HDV antibodies (anti-HDV). The EASL recommends testing for anti-HDV in all HBsAg-positive patients. Since January 2022, we have systematically carried out anti-HDV serology when a positive HBsAg is discovered (new HBsAg carriers).

OBJECTIVES: We evaluated the benefit of anti-HDV reflex testing after one year of practice by comparing anti-HDV and HBsAg serology data over the last six years, among the new HBsAg carriers and all the HBsAg carriers.

STUDY DESIGN: HBsAg and anti-HDV were screened using the Abbott Architect HBsAg quanti kit and the DIA.PRO HDVAb kit. Serological, demographic, virological, and clinical data were analyzed.

RESULTS: Implementing anti-HDV reflex testing leads to more than a 2-fold increase in diagnoses of HDV infection among all HBsAg carriers. If the anti-HDV positive rate remains stable among the new HBsAg carriers, a significant increase in the anti-HDV positive rate from 6.8 % to 10.3 % was observed considering all HBsAg carriers. Interestingly, the discovery of anti-HDV carriage increased from 3.9 % to 6.5 % in 2022, allowing earlier identification of HBV-HDV-infected patients and a fast referral to hepatologists for adequate clinical management and, in some cases, the introduction of bulevirtide-based therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary results at one year seem promising and evaluating the cost-effectiveness of reflex tests in real life with feedback would be helpful.

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