300 million hepatitis B sufferers but only one in 20 treated: study

March 27, 2018
A microscopic image of the Hepatitis B virus, taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Some 300 million people worldwide are living with the deadly hepatitis B virus (HBV), but only one in 20 received adequate treatment, researchers reported Tuesday.

For expectant mothers carrying the —which can be transmitted to their children—that percentage drops to one in 100, they reported in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology medical journal.

If left untreated, HBV can cause serious diseases of the liver, including cancer.

An estimated 600,000 people die every year from hepatitis-B related liver diseases, making HBV a bigger killer than malaria.

A test for HBV has been available since the early 1970s, but only one in ten sufferers worldwide have been diagnosed.

The virus is highly contagious via infected blood or other body fluids, and is mainly transmitted from mothers to their infants, or between children.

There is no cure, but antiviral drugs have proven effective in coping with symptoms.

A vaccine against HBV became available in the early 1980s. Since 1992, the World Health Organization has recommended a first dose within 24 hours of , but only half of newborns are vaccinated that quickly.

"Most mother-to-child transmission occurs within days of birth, so the birth dose is vital," said lead investigator Homie Razavi, a virologist at the Center for Disease Analysis outside Denver, Colorado.

"All children need to receive this life-saving vaccine at birth, not just half of them," he said.

Of the 16 countries that account for more than 80 percent of infections among five-year-olds, only China has scaled up vaccines-at-birth to 90 percent. Half of these nations have yet to put such a policy in place.

To compile these statistics, Razavi and his team analysed data from 435 studies and canvassed the work of more than 600 national experts.

They concluded that 292 million individuals were living with HBV in 2016, or nearly four percent of the global population.

The virus is most common in east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where prevalence is as high as 12 percent in the Central African Republic.

China, India, Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines account for nearly 60 percent of all infections.

"This study details the inadequate focus and expenditure on HBV treatment," Geoffrey Dusheiko of UCL Medical School and Kosh Agarwal from King's College Hospital wrote in a comment.

"There is a need to raise awareness of HBV to the same level as that of HIV."

Explore further: Worldwide 52 million children living with viral hepatitis

Related Stories

Worldwide 52 million children living with viral hepatitis

November 3, 2017
New data presented at this year's World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil (1-3 November) show that 52 million children are living with viral hepatitis worldwide, compared to 2.1 million children living with HIV/AIDS.

Deaths from liver cancer nearly double since the 1990s, new figures reveal

February 1, 2018
Over the last two decades, deaths caused by liver cancer have increased by 80%, making it one of the fastest-growing causes of cancer deaths worldwide.

Experts demand better prevention, treatment for children with hepatitis

November 3, 2017
Experts at the second World Hepatitis Summit Friday called for improved preventative measures and treatment for 52 million children suffering from the disease, on the final day of the three-day event in Sao Paulo.

Antiviral drug not beneficial for reducing mother-to-child transmission of hep B when added to existing preventatives

March 7, 2018
Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), an antiviral drug commonly prescribed to treat hepatitis B infection, does not significantly reduce mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus when taken during pregnancy and after ...

WHO urges stepped-up battle against hepatitis B

March 12, 2015
The world can beat the liver-attacking hepatitis B virus, which results in some 650.000 deaths a year, the World Health Organization said Thursday, releasing its first treatment guidelines for the disease.

Experts urge action to cut child deaths from deadly lung virus

July 7, 2017
Vaccines to combat a virus that can lead to fatal lung infections are urgently needed to help prevent child deaths worldwide, research suggests.

Recommended for you

Tibetan sheep highly susceptible to human plague, originates from marmots

August 16, 2018
In the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, one of the region's highest risk areas for human plague, Himalayan marmots are the primary carriers of the infectious bacterium Y. pestis. Y. pestis infection can be transmitted to humans and ...

Autoimmunity plays role in development of COPD, study finds

August 16, 2018
Autoimmunity plays a role in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study led by Georgia State University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center that analyzed human genome information ...

Reliable point-of-care blood test can help prevent toxoplasmosis

August 16, 2018
A recent study, performed in Chicago and Rabat, Morocco, found that a novel finger-prick test for infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy—and many other potential applications—is 100 percent sensitive ...

Scientists identify nearly 200 potential tuberculosis drug targets

August 16, 2018
Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Nearly 2 million people die every year from this infectious disease, and an estimated 2 billion people are chronically infected. The only vaccine, developed almost ...

First mouse model to mimic lung disease could speed discovery of more effective treatments

August 16, 2018
The biggest hurdle to finding effective therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a life-threatening condition in which the lungs become scarred and breathing is increasingly difficult – has been the inability ...

Anticancer drug offers potential alternative to transplant for patients with liver failure

August 15, 2018
Patients suffering sudden liver failure could in the future benefit from a new treatment that could reduce the need for transplants, research published today shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.