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Just 20% of people living with hep C are aware of their status

WHO's hepatitis report reveals global impact of the disease

WHO

Awareness and education around hepatitis remain poor, with just 20% of people living with hep C aware of their status after getting tested, according to a new report.

The World Health Organization’s first-of-its-kind investigation of the global hepatitis situation also found that only 9% of people living with hepatitis B knew they were affected.

Between them the two strains account for 96% of all hepatitis deaths, with the condition currently accounting for an annual death toll of 1.34 million people.

The WHO says the virus casts its net wider than that, with 325 million people (4.4% of the world’s population) thought to be carriers of the hep C or B virus.

Raquel Peck, CEO of WHA, said: “We need to use this report to advocate for a public health approach so that testing and treatment are rolled out at the scale necessary to ensure that every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life.

“We have the knowledge, what we need now is action.”

The WHO wants to see hepatitis eliminated as a public health threat by 2030, with a range of measures needed to achieve that, including greater coverage of initial hepatitis B birth dose vaccinations.

The NGO also wants to see better access to affordable treatment, which it says remains limited to only 1% of people living with the disease.

The number of deaths attributed to viral hepatitis is comparable to those caused by tuberculosis and higher than those caused by HIV, but deaths from hepatitis are increasing while tuberculosis and HIV mortality is declining.

Later this year a joint WHO-WHA World Hepatitis Summit will be held in Brazil on 1-3 November to focus on ways to implement WHO’s viral hepatitis strategy, which called for reductions in new infections by 90% and a 65% drop in mortality rates.

Article by
Gemma Jones

9th May 2017

From: Healthcare

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