Deaths from viral hepatitis surpass HIV/AIDS in many countries

Deaths from viral Hepatitis B and C have surpassed HIV/AIDS in many countries, including Australia and in Western Europe, according to an analysis of the 2010 Global Burden of Disease study.

The analysis was conducted by Dr Benjamin Cowie and Ms Jennifer MacLachlan from the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health, and was presented at The International Liver Congress in London earlier this month.

“Liver cancer is the fastest increasing cause of cancer deaths in Australia, increasing each year by 5 per cent, so by more than seventy people each year. In 2014 there was an estimated number of deaths of around 1,500 from liver cancer. The predominant cause is chronic viral Hepatitis,” Dr Cowie said.

Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. Chronic infection with the blood-borne viruses Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C can result in scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) or potentially liver cancer at a later stage – however these risks can be reduced through access to effective care and treatment.

Dr Cowie said additional resources were needed to prevent and treat Hepatitis B and C in order to address these imbalances in major preventable causes of human death.

“The release of the GBD 2010 results provides a unique opportunity to set global and local priorities for health, and address previous imbalances in addressing the major causes of preventable causes of human death, among which hepatitis B and C must clearly be counted.”

“The Commonwealth Government has recently committed to funding initiatives to improve access to testing and treatment for people from priority populations living with hepatitis B in Australia, which is a great step forward,” he said.

“The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) estimated around 1.3 million people lost their lives to viral Hepatitis since 1990, which is comparable to the respective burdens of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” Dr Cowie concluded.

The GBD 2010 is the most recent version of a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries and health risk factors. 

The GBD 2010 has collated estimates of 291 diseases and injuries and 1,160 conditions that followed to identify the causes of human death worldwide.

Substack subscription form sign up
The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

1 thought on “Deaths from viral hepatitis surpass HIV/AIDS in many countries”

  1. Its seems that with the overwhelming attention and publicity that HIV/AIDS receives, other viruses have been pushed to the side lines.

    Hepatitis is and excellent example of this. Like HIV/ AIDS Hepatitis weakens the body’s immune system and is easily spread from one person to the next.
    However it also destroys liver tissue, causing the liver to fail, and -particularly in Hep B and C – it causes cancer.

    Whereas Hepatitis A is acute and the liver is able to recover hepatitis B usually lasts a long time with the possibility of becoming chronic and result in permanent liver damage. However there is the possibility of preventing it with a vaccination.
    However, hepatitis C has no vaccination and is therefore incurable. 80% of patients with Hepatitis C develop chronic liver infection. In addition hepatitis C is the number one reason for liver transplants in the USA and Australia.

    More awareness needs to be created for these viruses as they are preventable. Especially now that the number of deaths caused by hepatitis have surpassed those by HIV.

    Instead of over promoting HIV I think that for each place the disease that is more prevalent should be focused on. For example, the countries like Australia where the death rate as a result of Hepatitis is greater than HIV/AIDS should be incorporated into awareness campaigns so that people know that they should take the vaccination and practice safe health behaviours in order to reduce their chances of getting the disease and thus reducing the prominence of the disease in their area.

Comments are closed.