July 28, World Hepatitis Day

July 28 marks the World Hepatitis Day, an opportunity to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes.

According to WHO statistics, viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year. But hepatitis remains largely ignored or unknown.

Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. The infection can become chronic and cause liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

In a new study published in the journal Hepatology, researchers from the UK reveal that hepatitis C virus genotype 1 is the most prevalent worldwide, accounting for 46% of all hepatitis C infections. Results of their analysis revealed that HCV genotype 1 - the most difficult to treat - is the most prevalent. They found it accounts for 46% of all HCV cases, meaning it is present in around 83.4 million individuals worldwide.

Researchers note that although HCV genotypes 1 and 3 are the most prevalent, the prevalence of the remaining genotypes can still increase if they find efficient transmission routes.

These observations suggest that under the right circumstances, most HCV genotypes have epidemic potential. They also suggest that social, behavioral, and demographic factors (including international migration) are more important than viral genetic variation in determining the global prevalence of different genotypes.

It is common for people to live with hepatitis C for years without knowing they have it, because they do not have symptoms. So most people diagnosed with hepatitis C find out that they already have long-term, chronic infection.

If the blood tests and liver biopsy show that a person has chronic infection but no damage to the liver, treatment is not always an option. If a person has some liver damage, he or she may receive a treatment based on a combination of medicines that fight the viral infection....