Understanding what Hepatitis B is?
Hepatitis B is inflammation of the Liver due to a viral infection with the Hepatitis B virus. The severity of the disease can range from a mild illness lasting only a few weeks (called acute infection), to a lifelong, serious (and potentially deadly) illness (called chronic infection.)
How common is Chronic Hepatitis B?
- Chronic Hepatitis B is known to be a global problem.
- WHO estimates that 296 million people were living with chronic Hepatitis B infection in 2019, with 1.5 million new infections each year. In 2019, Hepatitis B resulted in an estimated 820 000 deaths, mostly from cirrhosis & hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer).
- Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccines that are safe, available and effective.
How likely is it that acute Hepatitis B will become chronic?
- The likelihood depends on the age at which a person becomes infected. The younger a person is when they are infected with Hepatitis B virus, the greater the chance that the infection will become chronic. The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery, as well as through contact with blood or other body fluids during sex with an infected partner, unsafe injections or exposures to sharp instruments.
- Approximately 90% of infants who are infected around the time of birth will develop chronic infection.
- The risk decreases as you get older, dropping to around 5% if you are infected as an adult.