Chronic hepatitis is conventionally defined as a state of hepatic inflammation associated with the presence of elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in a patient for longer than six months. If HBsAg is detectable in the sera for six months or more, the patient is termed as a chronic hepatitis B carrier. Most patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection have however, preceding history of symptomatic acute hepatitis B. As the immune responses of such persons is inadequate, infectious HBV particles persist leading to continuous hepatocellular damage — chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and primary hepatocellular carcinoma (PHC) are often the result (Tiollais et al., 1985, 1988; Hollinger et al., 1991). Chronic hepatitis B virus infection is a major medical problem worldwide (Blum et al., 1991).
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