Hepatitis Zero

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 of 3 liver cancer deaths
3. 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware
4. Birth dose 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



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Types of Hepatitis


Hepatitis A


Key facts
  • Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness.
  • The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.
  • Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. However, a very small proportion of people infected with hepatitis A could die from fulminant hepatitis.
  • The risk of hepatitis A infection is associated with a lack of safe water, and poor sanitation and hygiene (such as dirty hands).
  • Epidemics can be explosive and cause substantial economic loss.
  • A safe and effective vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis A.
  • Safe water supply, food safety, improved sanitation, hand washing and the hepatitis A vaccine are the most effective ways to combat the disease.

  • Hepatitis B


    Key facts
  • Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
  • An estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus infection (defined as hepatitis B surface antigen positive).
  • In 2015, hepatitis B resulted in 887 000 deaths, mostly from complications (including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma).
  • Hepatitis B is an important occupational hazard for health workers.
  • However, it can be prevented by currently available safe and effective vaccine.

  • Hepatitis C


    Key facts
  • Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
  • The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus and the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood. This may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
  • Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Approximately 399 000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
  • There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; however research in this area is ongoing.

  • Hepatitis D


    Key facts
  • Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is a virus that requires hepatitis B virus (HBV) for its replication. HDV infection occurs only simultaneously or as super-infection with HBV.
  • The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
  • Vertical transmission from mother to child is rare.
  • At least 5% of people with chronic HBV infection are co-infected with HDV, resulting in a total of 15 – 20 million persons infected with HDV worldwide. However, this is a broad global estimation since many countries do not report the prevalence of HDV.
  • Worldwide, the overall number of HDV infection has decreased since 1980s. This trend is mainly due to a successful global HBV vaccination programme.
  • HDV-HBV co-infection is considered the most severe form of chronic viral hepatitis due to more rapid progression towards liver-related death and hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Currently, treatment success rates are generally low.
  • Hepatitis D infection can be prevented by hepatitis B immunization.

  • Hepatitis E


    Key facts
  • Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by infection with a virus known as hepatitis E virus (HEV).
  • Every year, there are an estimated 20 million HEV infections worldwide, leading to an estimated 3.3 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E (1).
  • WHO estimates that hepatitis E caused approximately 44 000 deaths in 2015 (accounting for 3.3% of the mortality due to viral hepatitis).
  • The virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated water.
  • Hepatitis E is found worldwide, but the prevalence is highest in East and South Asia.
  • A vaccine to prevent hepatitis E virus infection has been developed and is licensed in China, but is not yet available elsewhere.