Learn more about hepatitis

What makes hepatitis a global health problem?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. Its one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. Together, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C cause 80% of most liver cancer cases in the world.

Viral Hepatitis is not found in just one location, millions of people around the world are living with this disease but only 10% of them are aware of their diagnosis. 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 vaccines for hepatitis A, B and E, effective treatments for hepatitis A and B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis achievable, but we need to come together to make it happen.

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E

Hepatitis A transmission

Hepatitis A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Hepatitis A prevention

There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. Treatment within a few weeks of exposure to the virus can also bring short term immunity. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.

Hepatitis A treatment

As hepatitis A only causes acute hepatitis, the body is often able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks. However, hepatitis A infections can sometimes cause further complications.

Hepatitis B transmission

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. It can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.

Hepatitis B prevention

There is a vaccination that can prevent infection. If you have not been vaccinated, to reduce chances of exposure it is best to use condoms, and to avoid sharing needles or items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Hepatitis B treatment

Drugs such as alpha interferon and peginterferon and a variety of antiviral drugs are available which slow the replication of the virus and occasionally result in its clearance. Children born to mothers infected with hepatitis B should also be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth, as this can prevent an infection that will most likely progress to chronic hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C transmission

Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. In rare cases it can be transmitted through certain sexual practices and during childbirth.

Hepatitis C prevention

There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is therefore necessary to reduce risk of exposure, by avoiding sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Hepatitis C treatment

Treatment for chronic hepatitis C aims to eradicate the virus. It often involves a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, and there is increasing use of potent direct acting antiviral drugs, with and without interferon. People with different genotypes respond differently to treatment, some more successfully than others.

Hepatitis D transmission

Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood.

Hepatitis D prevention

Hepatitis D is only found in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. People not already infected with hepatitis B, should get the hepatitis B vaccination. To reduce exposure, avoid sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Hepatitis D treatment

Conditions may improve with administration of alpha interferon, however no effective antiviral therapy is currently available for hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E transmission

Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Hepatitis E prevention

Currently there is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis E, but it is not widely available. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.

Hepatitis E treatment

There is no treatment for hepatitis E. However it is usually self-limiting.

Issues in Hepatitis

Hepatitis is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious conditions in the world, affecting millions of people. Because of its different transmission routes and outcomes, it spans across a range of issues.

Harm Reduction

Globally, 23% of new hepatitis c infections are a result of injecting drugs. Yet global coverage of harm reduction programmes for people who inject drugs, including needle and syringe programmes, is less than 10%.

Join NOhep to ensure that by 2030, each person who injects drugs has access to at least 300 sterile needles and syringes per year.

Access to medicines

Globally, approx.10% of people living with viral hepatitis receive life-saving medication.

Join NOhep to ensure that 80% of people living with viral hepatitis are receiving treatment in 2030.

Diagnosis

Worldwide, only 20% of people living with hepatitis C and 9% of those with hepatitis B are aware of their condition.

Join NOhep to ensure 90% of people living with viral hepatitis are aware of their condition that by 2030.

Blood Safety

One in three low-income countries do not routinely screen blood, greatly increasing the chances of the virus being spread.

Join NOhep to demand that all countries screen blood donations.

Immunisation

Effective vaccines exist to prevent viral hepatitis B, a silent killer chronically infecting approximately 257 million people. At the moment, only 39% of infants receive birth-dose vaccinations.

Join NOhep to ensure 90% of babies will receive life-saving birth dose vaccinations by 2030.

HIV/AIDs and hepatitis coinfection

Today it is estimated that approximately 7% of people living with HIV are infected with hepatitis B; 6% of people living with HIV are infected with hepatitis C, resulting in a global burden of over 5 million.

Join NOhep to demand better screening and access to treatment.

Injection Safety

Unsafe injections decreased from 39% in 2000 to 5% in 2010 worldwide. However, in the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia regions, needles and syringes are frequently being reused without being sterilised.

Join NOhep to demand safe healthcare.

Liver cancer

Each year, more than 800,000 people die from liver cancer, of which 80% is caused by viral hepatitis.

Join NOhep to demand better screening.

Sanitation and access to clean water

Globally, 748 million people lack access to a safe source of drinking water and 2,500 million people, more than one third of the global population, live without basic sanitation facilities leading to increase chance of contracting hepatitis A.

Join NOhep to demand access to safe water and sanitation facilities.