A Third of the World Infected with Hepatitis

David Bernstein, MD

Today is World Hepatitis Awareness Day. The World Health Organization, in a statement just released in Geneva, estimates that 2 billion people -- one-third of the world’s population -- have been infected with hepatitis. Injection drug use is prevalent throughout the world and is a common risk factor for hepatitis B, C and HIV.

A global study recently published in the Lancet estimates that approximately 10 million intravenous drug users are infected with hepatitis C and 1 million to 2 million are infected with hepatitis B. These numbers are significantly higher than the prevalence of HIV infection in this population. This study reinforces the global health problem that chronic hepatitis B and C present to healthcare and coincidentally has been published at a time when the WHO is meeting in Geneva to address the significant health problem hepatitis presents to the world.


David Bernstein, MD,

Chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
North Shore University Hospital
LIJ Medical Center

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