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Patients with rheumatic diseases and chronic, or less frequently, resolved hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, can develop viral reactivation during antitumor necrosis factor therapy.1–3 Treatment with chemotherapeutic regimens that includes rituximab (RTX) without prophylactic antiviral therapy, has been linked to HBV reactivation in lymphoma patients with chronic (27%–80%), or resolved (3%–25%) HBV infection.1 ,4 Since there are no data available for rheumatic patients, we studied the safety of RTX in such patients with chronic or resolved HBV infection.
Forty-one consecutive patients with various rheumatic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis/RA: n=34, other: n=7) who had received ≥1 cycle of RTX and had ≥6 months of follow-up were included in this prospective study. Patients were treated with the standard dose of RTX (1 gm intravenous at days 1 and 15, table 1). Patients were screened for HBV at baseline (HBsAg, anti-HBc, anti-HBs); those found …