World Hepatitis Day 2016: Speaking out on hepatitis, the “silent killer”

Over 13 million people in the European Region are estimated to be living with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, and over 15 million with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. These two viruses account for the greatest burden of viral hepatitis in the Region. More than 400 people across the WHO European Region die from causes related to viral hepatitis every day.

Hepatitis B and C usually occur as a result of blood-to-blood contact with infected body fluids: for example, from blood transfusions or invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment. They can also be transmitted through sexual contact, although this is less common with hepatitis C.

Action plan to address viral hepatitis

In September 2016, Member States will discuss the first action plan for the health sector’s response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region.

Living with hepatitis

28 July is World Hepatitis Day, and WHO calls on policy-makers, health workers and the public to “Know hepatitis. Act now”. The disease is often called the silent killer, because globally 95% of people with hepatitis are unaware of their infection and people remain asymptomatic in most cases. To mark World Hepatitis Day, five people from across the WHO European Region with first-hand experience share their experience with living with the disease.