Hepatitis B remains global health concern
"According to our estimates, approximately 248 million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis B virus infection, with a disproportionally high burden in some countries," Dr Jördis J. Ott, a scientist at the epidemiology department of the HZI, said.
Hepatitis B can develop into a chronic illness. One of the most severe diseases from hepatitis B is liver cancer.
"While the fraction of chronically infected people in the general population is only 0.01 percent in some countries, over 20 percent are infected in other countries according to our results," Ott said.
A team of scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Researcher (HZI) in Braunschwieg conducted an international study thanks to funding from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The study evaluated how often the virus develops into a chronic infection in various countries. The study also included how many people in the general population were impacted as well as the key differences between the various countries.
"We urgently need to work on making the prevention measures become more effective,” Prof Gérard Krause, head of the epidemiology department, said. “Even more so since the problem is expected to be even more serious in high risk groups, such as injecting drug users, to name just one example.”
Further details are available in The Lancet, a scientific journal.