Viral hepatitis is the 7th leading killer worldwide, killing more people than HIV, TB or malaria

7 Jul 2016 Tara Farrell

Viral hepatitis has become the seventh leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing more people in a year than HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis or malaria, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, released yesterday.  

Deaths from infection, liver disease and cancer caused by viral hepatitis increased by nearly two thirds, from 890,000 in 1990 to 1.45 million in 2013, according to data collected in 183 countries.

By comparison, in 2013 there were 1.3 million deaths from AIDs 1.4 million from tuberculosis, and 855,000 from malaria, said the report published in the Lancet.

The upward trend in mortality is especially worrying given the availability of highly-effective preventative and curative interventions.

Lack of awareness, at an individual, community and government level, is cited as one of the main reasons for the perpetuating this global burden. Less than 5% of people living with viral hepatitis worldwide are aware of their condition, largely due to the disease being mostly asymptomatic and the lack of routine screening. The result being for many, a missed opportunity to access the highly effective treatment that can stop them succumbing to liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The review concluded with a call for a change in funding structures to "allow effective responses in low-income and lower-middle-income countries."