Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death across the world with a death toll rivaling that caused by AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria in a year, a new study revealed.
According to a report published Wednesday in The Lancet medical journal, data collected from 183 countries between 1990 and 2013 when reviewed showed that deaths from infection, liver disease and cancer caused by viral hepatitis increased from 890,000 in 1990 to 1.45 million in 2013, a 63 percent rise. Meanwhile in 2013 there were 1.5 million deaths from AIDS and 584,000 deaths from malaria. In 2014, 1.5 million people died of tuberculosis.
“Whereas deaths from many infectious diseases - such as TB and malaria - have dropped since 1990, viral hepatitis deaths have risen,” study leader Graham Cooke from Imperial College London's medicine department reportedly said.
Hepatitis results in an inflammation of the liver, which is cause by a virus or prolonged drug and alcohol abuse. There are five different forms of virus referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. Some types spread through contact with infected body fluids and others through contaminated food or water.
Most deaths are caused by Hepatitis B and C capable of serious liver damage and increase the risk of liver cancer.
“Although there are effective treatments and vaccines for viral hepatitis, there is very little money invested in getting these to patients - especially compared to malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB,” Cooke reportedly said, “We have tools at our disposal to treat this disease - we have vaccines to treat hepatitis A and B and we have new treatments for C. However the price of new medicines is beyond the reach of any country - rich or poor.”