What is Viral Hepatitis?

What is Viral Hepatitis?

The world’s 7th leading cause of death, comparable to HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.

What makes viral hepatitis a global health problem?

Viral hepatitis is a leading cause of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year – comparable to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. Together, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C cause 80% of most liver cancer cases in the world.

Viral hepatitis is not found in one location nor amongst one set of people; it can affect millions of people without them even being aware. Currently, only 11% of people living with viral hepatitis are aware of their status. This can result in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and in some cases, unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

With the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis is achievable, but greater awareness of the disease and the risks is a must, as is access to cheaper diagnostics and treatment.

If you would like to find out more about viral hepatitis in your country, get in touch with one of our members or visit the WHO Global Hepatitis Programme website.