WHO highlights appropriate testing and treatment as key to eliminating viral hepatitis

31 July 2018

Article: 52/3004

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted universal access to testing and treatment as the key to eliminating viral hepatitis in Europe.

Viral hepatitis affects tens of millions of people in the WHO European Region, more than two-thirds of whom live in eastern Europe and central Asia. Every day, thousands of people become infected due to factors such as unsafe injection practices and insufficient information and tools for prevention.

Chronic viral hepatitis B and C can lead to severe diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. These infections may not show symptoms for a long time, sometimes decades, and slowly damage the liver. Globally, at least 60% of liver cancer cases are due to late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C. An estimated 170,000 people die from causes related to hepatitis B and C each year.

The WHO recommends that all people at risk of hepatitis B and C should be offered testing. People diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B virus infection need to be regularly checked and assessed and offered treatment when needed. New WHO hepatitis C guidelines recommend that all people diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C should be offered treatment with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).

Source: WHO, 27 July 2018