[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
April 23, 1982

Carrier Status in Hepatitis B: A Modern Scourge With Hope

JAMA. 1982;247(16):2275-2276. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320410057035

Viral hepatitis, type B (HBV) is characterized in the acute phase by the appearance of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) marker in the serum. Approximately 7% of clinically diagnosed HBV cases continue to demonstrate HBsAg in the serum for months after the clinical symptoms have disappeared. These patients are identified as "carriers" of hepatitis B. The prevalence of HBsAg carriers in the general population of the United States is estimated to be 0.2% to 0.5%. The majority of these patients are entirely asymptomatic, yet the carrier at times represents a clear health hazard to his contacts. In addition, it is now clear that the HBsAg carrier is at clear risk of liver disease and hepatocellular cancer. There is general agreement at the time of this printing that there is no established way to treat or remove the carrier status in all affected persons.

The HBsAg carrier is an important