The sera of 23% of HBe antigen positive patients with chronic hepatitis are HBV-DNA polymerase negative. These patients are probably undergoing spontaneous seroconversion from a state of high to low viral replication and do not require antiviral therapy. In chronic HBV infection rapid changes in viral replication as a result of antiviral therapy are reflected by changes in HBV-DNA and HBV-DNA polymerase but not by changes in HBe antigen concentrations. Disappearance of HBe antigen from serum may be delayed for 180 days after permanent inhibition of HBV replication with adenine arabinoside or its monophosphate derivative.
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