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Epidemiology News Briefs - April 28, 2017

Hepatitis B and C Burdens of Disease Are Enormous

A recent report by an expert committee at the National Academy of Sciences chaired by Rutgers University epidemiologist Brian Strom has outlined the burden of morbidity and mortality caused by hepatitis B and C viruses. According to the Academy committee, hepatitis B and C kill more than 20,000 persons annually in the United States. According to Strom, “Despite being the seventh leading cause of death in the world---and killing more people every year than HIV, road traffic accidents, or diabetes---viral hepatitis accounts for less than 1 percent of the NIH research budget.”

Other facts in the report indicate that over  a million persons in the US have chronic hepatitis B and almost 3 million have chronic hepatitis C.  These can lead to liver cancer and hepatitis B and C cause about 80% of liver cancer worldwide. This cancer is on the increase in the United States. The good news is that hepatitis B is preventable with vaccination and and hepatitis C is treatable. Achieving elimination will require greater prioritization of interventions than has been the case up to now. The committee report lays out a blueprint for accomplishing these goals.


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