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. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
What makes hepatitis a global health problem?
Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS or malaria. Together, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) are the leading cause of liver cancer in the world, accounting for 80% of cases. Viral hepatitis is not found in one location nor amongst one demographic, it affect millions of people without them even being aware. Resulting in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and 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.