Viral infection, which spreads through blood and body fluids and invades the liver cells to seriously affect the liver, causes the deaths of millions of people worldwide every year. At present, more than 250 million people are carriers of the virus hepatitis BThat figure is more than seven times higher than that of HIV patients, Nature said last week.
In 2016, the deaths caused by hepatitis B – which in turn provoked cancer liver or cirrhosis – exceeded the number of deaths due to more disease-threatening diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. This is despite the fact that this variant of hepatitis can be prevented by a vaccine and it is also possible to treat with the same antiretroviral drugs used to fight HIV.
The infection is known as silent epidemic because initially its carriers have no symptoms. The main ways of transmission are blood – from mother to child at birth or injections and contaminated blood transfusions – and unprotected sexual intercourse.
The World Health Organization says that the way to protect yourself from this disease is through vaccine, which has a 95% efficiency to avoid any chronic infection, is very safe and its protection lasts at least 20 years.
The most affected region is Africa Sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that 6% of its population is infected and less than one-tenth of children receive the appropriate vaccines. The publication also states that this area occupies the last place in the interventions carried out by different countries in the diagnosis and treatment of people living with the virus.
"This is a critical time for the region," said Philippe Matthews, an immunologist at the University of Oxford, UK. He also assured that, unlike HIV, in Hepatitis B, no action has been taken resources and education needed to counteract a disease that has existed in mankind for thousands of years.