, Doctors Helping People Online for Over 10 years
Home Search SiteMap Contact Us Forum Store Review Board

Viral Hepatitis

Overview, Incidence and Prevalence

Physician developed and monitored.

Original Date of Publication: 01 Aug 2001
Reviewed by: under construction

Original Source:

Home » Viral Hepatitis » Overview, Incidence and Prevalence


Hepatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the liver that may be caused by viruses, drugs, and toxins. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) and fever-like symptoms. The three major viruses that affect the liver, hepatitis A, B, and C (HAV, HBV, HCV) differ according to mode of transmission, pathology, and prognosis. Generally, the virus is transmitted through feces, blood, or bodily fluid that contains blood. Fecal contamination of water and food, eating undercooked shellfish, and using contaminated intravenous drug needles are all common routes of transmission. Toxins like alcohol and anti-HIV drugs can lead to nonviral hepatitis.

Hepatitis is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) because it can be contracted and spread through intercourse, contact with genitals and the anus, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva. It is over 100 times more infectious than HIV. Certain high-risk sexual behaviors have led to an increased prevalence of hepatitis in men who have sex with men (MSM). Recent outbreaks have occurred in large cities, like West Hollywood and Atlanta. Other people at greater risk include travelers (hepatitis is endemic in certain countries), day-care professionals, and prison inmates and workers. Hepatitis causes hundreds of millions of dollars in missed work and medical care each year. All forms of hepatitis are reportable to the state department of health.

Newest strains of hepatitis–D, E, F, and G–have emerged within the last 10 years. They are less common and less is known about them. Some, like HDV, require HBV to develop and others are similar to one or more of the three main strains.

Incidence and Prevalence
Hepatitis is a serious health concern worldwide. Countries with the greatest prevalence include Africa, South America, eastern European countries, and Asian countries, excluding Japan. Incidence and mortality rates vary with each type of the disease:

  • Hepatitis A
    • Approximately 150,000 new cases in the United States each year
    • 10,000,000 new cases reported globally every year
    • 100 deaths in the United States yearly

  • Hepatitis B
    • Approximately 140,000 new cases in the United States each year
    • 300,000,000 people in the world chronically infected
    • 1,000 deaths a year in United States from HBV-related liver cancer

  • Hepatitis C
    • Approximately 35,000 new cases in the United States each year
    • 4,000,000 people in the United States chronically infected
    • 9,000 deaths a year in United States from HCV-related liver disease

African Americans and Latinos have the highest rates of chronic hepatitis in the United States, especially in urban environments where limited access to health care, crowded housing, and intravenous drug use are prevalent.

© 1998-2008, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Viral Hepatitis (continued...)

Comment on the above article

Browser Comments
    There are currently no comments.

Viral Hepatitis Resources

Join Our Viral Hepatitis Forum

Do you have a question, want to share medical advice, or just need to discuss your situation with someone else having a similar experience?

The healthchannels forum is a resource for everyone to share and discuss their health and medical needs with others.

Living with...Share your story

Do you have a personal health story that you would like to share with others?

As a source of free patient education, our goal is to provide our users with trustworthy information and support from others. That's why we've started our "Living with..." sections.

Our "Living With..." support pages are a place to share experiences about living with a certain condition, disease, disorder, or illness and for loved ones of those dealing with health-related issues.

Many people, especially when newly diagnosed, find comfort in knowing that others are having a similar experience.

Help others by sharing your story.

View stories already submitted.

Stay Updated

Sign up for our newsletter and receive important updates on the medical conditions that are most important to you.

Are you interested in becoming a nurse? Take this test.

To quickly access health information from your website's browser,
download's healthchannels toolbar.