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Markov modeling in hepatitis B screening and linkage to care



With up to 240 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B worldwide, including an estimated 2 million in the United States, widespread screening is needed to link the infected to care and decrease the possible consequences of untreated infection, including liver cancer, cirrhosis and death. Screening is currently fraught with challenges in both the developed and developing world. New point-of-care tests may have advantages over standard-of-care tests in terms of cost-effectiveness and linkage to care. Stochastic modeling is applied here for relative utility assessment of point-of-care tests and standard-of-care tests for screening.


We analyzed effects of point-of-care versus standard-of-care testing using Markov models for disease progression in individual patients. Simulations of large cohorts with distinctly quantified models permitted the assessment of particular screening schemes. The validity of the trends observed is supported by sensitivity analyses for the simulation parameters.


Increased utilization of point-of-care screening was shown to decrease hepatitis B-related mortalities and increase life expectancy at low projected expense.


The results suggest that standard-of-care screening should be substituted by point-of-care tests resulting in improved linkage to care and decrease in long-term complications.

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