Documents to download

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The most common forms of hepatitis are caused by hepatitis viruses, of which there are five main types. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that these are of greatest concern because of the “burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread”.  It cites types B and C as most concerning. These lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people globally and, taken together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer. The WHO also believes the condition is being overlooked.

Viral hepatitis B and C affect 325 million people worldwide, leading to about 1.4 million deaths a year. It is the second major killer infectious disease after tuberculosis, and 9 times more people are infected with hepatitis than HIV. Deaths from hepatitis have been increasing over the past two decades, which points to a lack of global awareness and action, including among top decision-makers.

The need to combat hepatitis globally forms one of the targets under the sustainable development goals. These were agreed by UN member states, including the UK, in 2015. The WHO subsequently set the goal of eliminating viral hepatitis as a “major public health threat” by 2030 and reducing the mortality rate by 10% by 2020. The UK Government has stated it is committed to the goal of eliminating hepatitis C (the most common form of the virus in the UK) by 2030. 

World Hepatitis Day is held annually on 28 July and is promoted by the World Hepatitis Alliance. This year’s theme is ‘Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis’.


Documents to download

Related posts

  • Smoke-free legislation: The UK and New Zealand

    During the 2023–24 session, the UK government introduced legislation to raise the age each year at which someone can legally buy tobacco products. This was similar to measures introduced in New Zealand which were recently reversed. This briefing looks at developments in New Zealand and how they have informed the debate on the UK government’s proposals.

    Smoke-free legislation: The UK and New Zealand
  • The UK economy in the 1980s

    This briefing is the fourth of a series on the post-war history of the UK economy. The series proceeds decade-by-decade from the 1950s onwards, providing an overview of the key macroeconomic developments of each decade. This briefing looks at the 1980s. The decline in the profitability of industry, which began in the 1960s, was reversed in this decade; however, the share of national income received by workers fell to a post-war low.

    The UK economy in the 1980s
  • Infected blood scandal: Background, impacts, interim compensation and inquiry outcomes

    Between 1970 and the early 1990s, more than 30,000 NHS patients were given blood transfusions, or treatments which used blood products, contaminated with hepatitis C or HIV. Over 3,000 people have died as a result, and thousands live with ongoing health conditions. The infected blood inquiry has reported, calling for a range of measures, including immediate compensation, public memorials, and for lessons to be learned in medicine, government and the civil service.

    Infected blood scandal: Background, impacts, interim compensation and inquiry outcomes