The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver, which is the body’s normal response to infection and toxic stimuli.
Viral hepatitis is the most common form of liver inflammation. It can be caused by any of the hepatitis viruses identified as A, B C, D and E, which are covered in some detail in the following pages.
Almost 500,000 people in Australia, or 2% of the population, live with chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C). This is over 17 times the number of people living with HIV/AIDS and more than double the number of people living with epilepsy. 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with viral hepatitis each year - around the same number diagnosed with breast cancer.
Nearly 1000 Australians die each year from hepatitis B and C. Four Victorians die every week as a consequence of viral hepatitis. Liver cancer largely caused by chronic viral hepatitis infection is the fastest increasing cause of cancer death in Australia.
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