Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses that cause acute and/or chronic infection, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In the WHO European Region an estimated 13 million people live with chronic hepatitis B, and an estimated 15 million people are infected with hepatitis C. Because the disease is often asymptomatic and left untreated, chronic hepatitis is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. People who inject drugs are particularly vulnerable to hepatitis and co-infection with both hepatitis and HIV is common.

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Hepatitis B vaccination has dramatically reduced infection rates among children in Europe, but more is needed to achieve elimination

The introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine in 1982 led to a dramatic fall in the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections globally. Today, 4.5 million infections are prevented each year in children, as the first WHO “Global hepatitis report 2017” revealed last week.


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Key partners

WHO Regional Office for Europe works with several key partners on activities related to hepatitis

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