Hepatitis, a Major Global Health Issue

Hepatitis, a Major Global Health IssueHepatitis, a Major Global Health Issue

World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis as a major global health issue.

Iran is among the countries successful in reducing the prevalence of the disease.

Figures show that Iran has succeeded in reducing the rate of Hepatitis B from 7% to 2%. Further, the rate of Hepatitis C has dropped to below 0.5%, Persian language ‘Salamat’ weekly reported.

“However, we still have a long way to go” to reach global benchmarks, said Masoud Mardani, infectious disease specialist and professor at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences.

Hepatitis or inflammation of the liver can be caused by viral infections, alcohol consumption, toxins and autoimmune liver diseases, and indiscriminate use of medicine. “Liver performs many critical functions that affect the body’s metabolism including bile production, filtering of toxins and activation of enzymes.”

There are five types of viral hepatitis including A, B, C, D, and E, but type A is more common in the country, he said.

Hepatitis A is more common in the third world and developing countries. Fortunately, 99% of affected people recover. It usually is spread when a person ingests even tiny amounts of contaminated fecal matter, he added.

About 1.5 million people or 2% of Iran’s population are estimated to be infected with the deadly Hepatitis B virus, and many of them are not aware of it.


Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can be transmitted in the same way as HIV. The disease is spread by contact with infected body fluids such as blood, or from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery.

Currently, the most common way of the disease spread in the country is its transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy or delivery, Mardani said.

Since 1993, under the Health Ministry’s ‘immunization expansion’ plan, free vaccination against Hepatitis B is provided at all health centers. This has greatly reduced new cases of the disease

Health officials have set goals to eliminate it within the next two decades.  Fortunately, people born in the past two decades are free of the disease. “We have to identify infected people to prevent transmission to others.”

The vaccine provides 96% immunity against the disease.

On Hepatitis C, he said there is no vaccine “but we have achieved success in reducing the rate to 0.5% (about 375,000 individuals).”

Many people are unaware that they have Hepatitis C until they suffer from severe liver damage. Hepatitis C is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood.

Sharing needles to inject illegal drugs is the common cause of the disease spread. The risk of Hepatitis C through sexual contact is very small.

Highlight: Inflammation of the liver or hepatitis is caused by viral infections, alcohol consumption, toxins and autoimmune liver diseases, and indiscriminate use of medicine