Millions of people across the globe, including in our own backyard, are living with a viral hepatitis infection and may not even know it. Experts at Baylor College of Medicine say awareness and diagnosis is the first step to taking control and making changes to either prevent or treat this potentially deadly infection.
Hepatitis is a generic term for inflammation of the liver whether caused by viral infections, alcohol, autoimmunity, genetic disorders or drug toxicities. If undiagnosed or untreated, it may lead to progressive scarring, known as fibrosis, and risks of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Viral hepatitis are the Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. Hepatitis B and C viruses are particularly important causes of chronic liver disease that can result in cirrhosis and liver cancer.
“According to the World Health Organization, viral hepatitis accounts for approximately 1.5 million deaths per year, which is more than those caused by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. HBV and HCV infections account for more than 90% of those deaths. It is now possible to prevent both hepatitis A and B using safe and effective vaccines, although no vaccines currently exist for HCV or HEV infections. Oral antiviral medications can control HBV infection and cure both HCV and HEV infections,” said Dr. John Vierling, professor of medicine and surgery at Baylor.
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- Hepatitis B vaccine: HEPLISAV-B is 1st approval in US in 25 years, 1st two-shot vaccine
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