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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major human pathogen. The outcome of acute hepatitis B is variable but usually followed by a complete recovery. A small proportion of infections in adults and a higher proportion of infections in early childhood continue in a chronically infected state in which the virus persists in the liver. Patients with chronic hepatitis B usually have no initial symptoms of infection, but over time the major disease sequelae, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, can develop. It is estimated that some 350 million people worldwide are currently chronically infected with HBV, but many more will have been infected and recovered.


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