What is Viral Hepatitis?

What is Viral Hepatitis?

One of the world’s leading causes of death, viral hepatitis kills as many as HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis

Hepatitis B and C cause 1.4 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS and malaria, and a number comparable to tuberculosis. Together, these viruses cause two in every three liver cancer deaths across the world.

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.

5 things you didn’t know about viral hepatitis

  1. Hepatitis B and C kill more people annually than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB
  2. Hepatitis B and C are responsible for 2 out 3 liver cancer deaths
  3. 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware 
  4. Birthdose vaccine costs as low as 20 cents yet isn’t used in 48% of countries worldwide 
  5. Eliminating hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health threats by 2030 would prevent approximately 36 million infections and save 10 million lives

Find out more here.

What makes viral hepatitis a global health problem?

Chronic hepatitis B and C are life-threatening infectious diseases that cause serious liver damage, cancer, and premature death. More than 300 million people are living with the hepatitis B virus or the hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis B and C are silent epidemics, hitting children and marginalized populations the hardest which include people who inject drugs, Indigenous Peoples, prisoners, men who have sex with men, migrants and people living with HIV/AIDs.

Globally, 90% of people living with hepatitis B and 80% living with hepatitis C are unaware they are living with the disease, resulting in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease or liver cancer 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 and understanding of the disease and the risks is a must, as is access to cheaper diagnostics and treatment. In 2015, viral hepatitis was included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in 2016 the world’s first global hepatitis strategy to eliminate the disease was ratified.

Ensuring that no-one is left behind in and that policymakers’ deliver on their commitment will be key to achieving elimination. This is our priority. Make it your priority too.

To find out more about our activities for 2018-2020, check out our Strategic Plan.