Hepatitis is Both Preventable and Treatable

About 325 million people are currently living with hepatitis infections
(Precision Vaccinations)

The first ever Global Hepatitis Report was published by the World Health Organization (WHO) presenting some good news and some bad news.

According to this new report, an estimated 1.34 million people died from hepatitis in 2015.  This is higher than the number of deaths caused by AIDS.

Additionally, about 328 million people were believed to have active infections as of 2015.

The WHO’s report is disappointing to many health officials because these viral illnesses are both preventable and treatable, yet there is reason to be optimistic.

According to the WHO, 84% of children born in 2015 received the 3 recommended doses of the hepatitis B series

At the same time, however, only 1/3 of children worldwide are receiving the first dose of the vaccine at birth.  This leaves a window of risk that allows for new infections.

Vaccines for hepatitis B virus (HBV) were first released in 1982. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began recommending infant immunization in the USA in 1991. According to the CDC, both HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) share the frustrating trait of silence. In other words, individuals who become infected with hepatitis may not know they have the disease.

Without a diagnosis, there’s no treatment. Without treatment, there’s no stopping the spread of hepatitis B or C.  Furthermore, when the virus does make itself known, whether through liver damage or liver cancer, the disease is too advanced for treatment.

The CDC has not approved a vaccine for hepatitis C, but with treatment, HCV is now curable.

The WHO’s report says hepatitis C is caused by a virus that mutates extremely fast. Immunizing bodies against infection has proven impossible since the viral genome that guides replication inside of a new host is a constantly moving target.

Decades of research has produced drugs, available since 2013, that completely push the virus out of the body. About 3 months of daily treatment with one of these “direct-acting antivirals” (DAA) leaves a person virus-free, and with few side-effects. There are four classes of DAA that combine in different ways to make up the different hepatits C DAA treatments.

The estimated number of individuals living with HCV worldwide has been slashed by 50 percent, according to the WHO report.

For patients not covered by insurance, the total cost of a hepatitis vaccination usually includes shot administration fees. The CDC current vaccine contract prices can be found here.