Skip to content


Media Center



Action needed to improve prevention, surveillance, diagnosis and treatment

Washington, D.C., 28 July 2011 (PAHO/WHO) — As many as 2 billion people worldwide are infected with hepatitis B—one of five types of hepatitis virus—and more than 350 million suffer a chronic form of the disease. Yet public awareness is low, and much more public health action is needed to prevent and control viral hepatitis, said experts today at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in observance of World Hepatitis Day.

The hepatitis group of viruses—types A, B, C, D and E—cause acute and chronic infection and inflammation of the liver, and are a major public health problem globally. An estimated 500,000 to 700,000 people die annually as a result of hepatitis B virus infection. Some 130–170 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, and some 35,000 people die from related liver diseases each year. An estimated 57 percent of cases of liver cirrhosis and 78 percent of cases of primary liver cancer result from infection with hepatitis B or C virus.

In the Americas, more than 380,000 potential blood donors were deferred from donating due to the presence of risks for hepatitis B, C or HIV in 2009. Yet despite this initial screening, more than 75,000 blood donor donations were found to be infected with hepatitis B or C viruses. According to available data, between 7 million and 9 million people may be infected with hepatitis C in Latin America alone.

The World Health Assembly in 2010 designated World Hepatitis Day as an official WHO health day to call attention to the growing threat of this disease and called on countries to improve awareness, surveillance, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis.

“Today, on World Hepatitis Day, we join WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance in calling attention to the enormous toll of viral hepatitis,” said Dr Roses, PAHO’s Director. “We hope that together we can stir a sense of urgency and commitment across all levels of society, from the health system to the communities they serve.”

Viral hepatitis can be prevented through the use of vaccines, and PAHO/WHO recommends the inclusion of hepatitis B vaccine in all immunization schedules, as well as routine use of hepatitis B vaccine among health workers. Hepatitis B vaccine was introduced by nearly all PAHO/WHO Member countries at the end of the 1990s. Currently, all the countries and territories of the Americas, with the exception of Haiti, have hepatitis B vaccine in their national immunization programs, with levels of coverage of over 90 percent.

In observing World Hepatitis Day, PAHO and WHO are calling on countries to: develop, enhance or improve their surveillance systems for viral hepatitis; strengthen laboratory capacity; support public policies and integrated interventions; implement strategies and tools to strengthen their health care systems; guarantee early diagnosis and treatment, protection and immunization for healthcare workers; implement universal hepatitis B immunization for newborns and children; and promote safe blood donation and injection safety.

A working group, launched by PAHO/WHO today, will try to integrate the existing efforts of all entities that have been collaborating with PAHO/WHO member countries to prevent and control viral hepatitis.

In May 2010, the 63rd World Health Assembly decided to designate each July 28 as World Hepatitis Day, as an opportunity to focus attention on the global health threat of viral hepatitis and to promote actions to confront it. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Don’t let hepatitis tear your life apart … Know it. Confront it. Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere.”

For more information visit:  World Hepatitis Day 2011 -http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/world_hepatitis_day/en/

Hepatitis: Key Facts

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and together are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the feces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Certain sex practices can also spread HAV. Adequate supplies of safe-drinking water and proper disposal of sewage within communities, combined with personal hygiene practices, such as regular hand-washing, reduce the spread of HAV. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. A safe and effective vaccine is available to prevent HBV.
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly also transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.
  • Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Safe and effective hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.
  • Hepatitis E virus (HEV), like HAV, is transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of disease in developed countries. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.

Early diagnosis provides the best opportunity for effective medical support. It also allows those infected to take steps to prevent transmission of the disease to others, for example, by adopting safe sex practices. It also facilitates lifestyle precautions—such as eliminating alcohol and certain drugs--to protect the liver from additional harm.

Viral hepatitis can be prevented through the use of vaccines. Screening blood used for transfusion can prevent transmission of HBV and HCV. Sterile injection equipment protects against HBV and HCV transmission. Safer sex practices, including minimizing the number of partners and using barrier (condom) protective measures, have been shown to protect against HBV and HCV transmission. Harm reduction for injection drug users prevents HBV and HCV transmission, and safe food and water provide the best protections against HAV and HEV.


For more information, contact Sonia Mey-Schmidt, Media and Communication, PAHO/WHO, Washington, D.C., Phone: + 1 202-974-3036. Mobile: +1 202 251 2646, E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.paho.org

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 July 2011 04:41

PAHO/WHO supports CDC-led effort to eliminate malaria on Hispaniola by 2020 (02/25/2015)

malaria paho cdc

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has joined a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that seeks to eliminate indigenous cases of malaria on the island of Hispaniola by 2020. 

WHO urges governments to increase investment to tackle neglected tropical diseases (02/19/2015)

19 FEBRUARY 2015 ¦GENEVA/LONDON/ADDIS ABABA –  The World Health Organization (WHO) urges affected countries to scale up their investment in tackling 17 neglected tropical diseases in order to improve the health and well-being of more than 1.5 billion people. This investment would represent as little as 0.1% of current domestic expenditure on health in affected low and middle income countries for the period 2015-2030.

2015 PAHO/TDR Small Grant Programme (02/09/2015)

The Small Grants Programme is a joint initiative of TDR and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in place since 1995. The goal of the research proposal funded under this call is to develop operational strategies that integrate and deliver joint interventions to control or eliminate infectious diseases of poverty.

Leprosy cases declined 37% in the Americas over a decade (01/30/2015)

Leprosy case

The number of new leprosy cases in the Americas fell by 36.9% between 2003 and 2013—from 52,435 to 33,084, —according to the latest data of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). Nearly 94% of these cases were reported from Brazil. The proportion of people with leprosy declined 54.2% at the regional level during the same period, from 0.72 to 0.33 cases per 10,000 inhabitants

2014

PAHO year in review: 2014 public health highlights in the Americas (12/24/2014)

PAHO/WHO honors 2014 ‘Malaria Champions of the Americas’ (11/07/2014)

Malaria in the Americas Forum 2014: Accelerating Malaria Elimination in the Americas (11/04/2014)

Paraguay inicia el camino hacia la certificación de la eliminación del Paludismo (11/04/2014)

Technical Note on transgenic Mosquitoes Engineered for Aedes aegypti Control (11/03/2014)

Countries of the Americas aim to halt transmission of schistosomiasis by 2020 (10/28/2014)

IV Jornadas Internacionales sobre Enfermedades Transmisibles por Vectores y V Jornadas Internacionales sobre enfermedad de Chagas en el Gran Chaco Santiago del Estero, Argentina (10/16/2014)

Save the Date: Changing the Face of Chagas Disease: Scaling Up Diagnosis, Treatment and R&D for People Living with Chagas Disease in the Americas (10/09/2014)

As countries advance toward disease elimination, the need for sustained funding remains (10/01/2014)

PAHO and The Carter Center congratulate Ecuador as second in the Americas to achieve elimination of onchocerciasis (river blindness) (09/29/2014)

Informe Epidemiológico presenta la situación de la Leishmaniasis en las Américas en 2012 (09/05/2014)

Growing up without parasites (08/25/2014)

Taller "Abordaje de la emergencia y dispersión de la leishmaniasis en la frontera de Argentina, Brasil y Paraguay" en el marco del proyecto sobre leishmaniasis (07/17/2014)

“Malaria Champions of the Americas” extends deadline for nominating best practices on integrated efforts against vector-borne disease (06/25/2014)

La Provincia de San Luis, República Argentina certificó la interrupción de la transmisión vectorial de la enfermedad de Chagas (06/11/2014)

Five-fold increase in dengue cases in the Americas over the past decade (05/29/2014)

Brazil and Venezuela agree to joint action to eliminate river blindness in Yanomami area (05/20/2014)

Se formuló un decálogo básico de atención médica de la enfermedad de Chagas a nivel primario (05/03/2014)

"Malaria Champions of the Americas" seeks best practices on integrated efforts against vector-borne disease (04/25/2014)

On World Health Day, soccer star Leonel Messi helps to raise awareness about Chagas’ Disease (04/07/2014)

Half the population of the Americas is at risk of diseases carried by small insects (04/04/2014)

Call to Action: “Step up the fight against vector-borne diseases in the Americas” (03/31/2014)

Brazil moves towards the elimination of the transmission of Lymphatic Filariasis (03/21/2014)

PAHO Director Message on World Health Day 2014 (03/18/2014)

Países de las Américas implementarán un protocolo de vigilancia integrada del dengue (03/06/2014)

2013

PAHO Director thanks international malaria partners at U.S. Capitol (12/12/2013)

Countries of the Americas have reduced malaria deaths by 70% since 2000, but 145 million people in the region remain at risk (12/11/2013)

Malaria is present in 21 countries in the Americas (12/11/2013)

70 years of Bambui, a living story of Chagas Disease (12/05/2013)

La OPS participa en el XI Congreso Centroamericano y del Caribe de Parasitología y Medicina Tropical (In Spanish) (11/27/2013)

Reunión Regional ¿Porqué no podemos controlar el Aedes aegypti? Situación Actual y próximos pasos (Spanish only) (11/25/2013)

PAHO to honor Malaria Champions of the Americas on 7th Annual Malaria Day in the Americas (11/04/2013)

Reunión Regional de alineación de la Estrategia de Gestión Integrada para la prevención y control del Dengue de la OPS/OMS (EGI-Dengue) (10/11/2013)

Universal access to eye care could prevent most blindness (10/10/2013)

Health leaders set course for Pan American health action and progress toward universal coverage (10/04/2013)

‘People in the Americas are healthier and stronger’ thanks to Pan American cooperation in health, says PAHO Director (09/30/2013)

Filiariasis linfática: hacia su eliminación en 2020 (09/05/2013)

Colombia is first country in the world to eliminate river blindness (07/29/2013)

An educational video game on dengue (07/26/2013)

Municipios de Colombia alcanzan interrupción de la transmisión vectorial intra domiciliaria de Trypanosoma cruzi, por R.prolixus (07/08/2013)

Dominican Republic strengthens actions to evaluate the lymphatic filariasis transmission in the country (06/18/2013)

“Malaria Champions of the Americas” contest receives nominations until July 5 (06/17/2013)

Certification of the Interruption of Vectoral Transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi in Belize (06/12/2013)

Latin American countries gather to work towards the elimination of lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) (06/12/2013)

Plan Decenal de Salud Pública 2012-2021 de Colombia (06/12/2013)

PAHO welcomes countries’ commitment to eliminate 12 neglected diseases from the Americas by 2015 (06/11/2013)

Experts meet to enhance synergies for soil-transmitted helminthiases control in the Americas (05/31/2013)

PAHO deputy director describes health progress in the Americas at OAS (05/22/2013)

Honduras expands deworming of children in remote communities during vaccination campaigns (05/12/2013)

PAHO/WHO to support Guyana and Suriname in studies of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) (05/10/2013)

Workshop for Training on Regional Guidance for Implementation of Integrated Deworming Actions - Bogota, Colombia 13-15 May 2013 (05/09/2013)

Intensifying Integrated Efforts for Control of Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases in the Region of the Americas - Bogotá, Colombia 16 and 17 May 2013 (05/09/2013)

La República Dominicana realizó Jornada Nacional de Desparasitación integrada a la Semana de Vacunación de las Américas del 2013 (05/01/2013)

“Malaria Champions of the Americas” contest seeks best practices that integrate other health solutions (04/25/2013)

Décimo Primera Semana de Vacunación en Honduras incluirá campaña de desparasitación en cuatro departamentos del país (04/20/2013)

Honduras inicia campaña de desparasitación contra geohelmintos en cuatro departamentos del país, en el marco de la Semana de la Vacunación (04/20/2013)

Presidente del Paraguay lanza campaña de desparasitación nacional (04/17/2013)

Curso a distancia de autoaprendizaje de Leishmaniasis en las Américas: diagnóstico y tratamiento (04/14/2013)

Misión de Evaluación Internacional de la Prevención, Control y Atención de la Enfermedad de Chagas en Argentina (03/26/2013)

Salud y Educación firman acuerdo para ejecutar campaña antiparasitaria nacional (03/25/2013)

Misión de Evaluación de la situación epidemiológica y de control de la enfermedad de Chagas en el Departamento de Alto Paraguay (03/24/2013)

Ministry of Health of Brazil, started a deworming and leprosy case-finding campaign (03/20/2013)

Progress in the fight against neglected infectious diseases in the Americas and the world (01/15/2013)

New year, new materials: PAHO releases an infographic to continue the fight against Hepatitis in the Americas (01/11/2013)

World Malaria Report 2012 (01/10/2013)

13º International Dengue Course (01/08/2013)

2012

In the Americas, malaria cases have declined nearly 60% since 2000 (12/20/2012)

Departamento de Potosí, Bolivia, es certificado por interrupción de la transmisión vectorial de Trypanosoma cruzi (agente de la enfermedad de Chagas) (12/01/2012)

PAHO Deputy Director urges integrated approach to neglected tropical diseases (11/23/2012)

Call for Applications to the Regional Green Light Committee (rGLC) (11/15/2012)

PAHO Honors 2012 Malaria Champions of the Americas (11/09/2012)

On 6th Annual Malaria Day in the Americas, PAHO Will Honor Malaria Champions of the Americas (10/10/2012)

On 6th Annual Malaria Day in the Americas, PAHO Will Honor Malaria Champions of the Americas (10/10/2012)

Documento de Santiago del Estero. Nuevas orientaciones para consenso en organización y estrategia de la atención de Chagas (10/09/2012)

OPS llama a reforzar lucha contra hepatitis, una enfermedad “silenciosa” que afecta a millones de personas en las Américas (07/26/2012)

PAHO events during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (07/19/2012)

Curso Internacional de Intervención Integral de Dengue (07/11/2012)

New CDC test for dengue approved (07/03/2012)

Argentina: Santiago del Estero Marks Key Milestone in Chagas control in a hyperendemic area (In Spanish) (07/02/2012)

The Region of the Americas is preparing the commemoration of "World Hepatitis Day" (06/24/2012)

Evalúan Plan Nacional para prevenir enfermedades infecciosas desatendidas (In Spanish) (06/20/2012)

La OPS celebra la primera Reunión Regional sobre Hepatitis Virales en América Latina y el Caribe (06/19/2012)

Resultados y conclusiones de un taller en prevención de Chagas en Brasilia (In Spanish) (06/11/2012)

Uruguay es el 1º país de América Latina libre del insecto que transmite el mal de chagas (05/24/2012)

Countries of the Americas promote integrated action to eliminate neglected diseases (05/17/2012)

Experts to analyze progress toward elimination of trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness (05/11/2012)

News for the STH Control Community. Children Without Worms. Sharing Knowledge and Success Stories (04/26/2012)

Guatemala es sede de la segunda reunión regional para la eliminación del tracoma en las Américas (04/18/2012)

Honduras: primer país del Continente con un plan nacional para prevención, atención, control y eliminación de enfermedades infecciosas desatendidas (04/12/2012)

Se realiza el “Taller Para Elaborar la Norma Nacional de la Leishmaniasis” (In Spanish) (03/30/2012)

Press Release: Private and Public Partners Unite to Combat 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2020 (01/30/2012)

2011

World Malaria Report 2011 (12/15/2011)

Evaluación de terreno en Argentina confirma notables avances en el control de la enfermedad de Chagas (12/06/2011)

PAHO: To remove the NTDs we must step up not only our Health sector strategies but our Poverty-Reduction Strategies (12/06/2011)

USAID Grants PAHO $5 Million to Improve Health in Latin America and the Caribbean (11/21/2011)

Colombia, el primer país de las Américas que elimina la oncocercosis (11/14/2011)

PAHO Honors Malaria Champions of the Americas 2011 (11/09/2011)

Países de las Américas acordaron plan para reducir la malaria, prevenir su reintroducción y mantener los logros (09/29/2011)

AMI/RAVREDA celebró 10 años de lucha contra la malaria en el Amazonas (09/15/2011)

Celebrating 10 Years of Collaboration: Looking into the Future Together (09/12/2011)

Directora de la OPS: es urgente integrar y potenciar acciones, recursos y alianzas para eliminar las Enfermedades Desatendidas en las Américas (08/18/2011)

PAHO/WHO Warns of Growing Health Toll of Hepatitis (07/27/2011)

Tackling and Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) with Common Tools but Innovative Applications of Knowledge is a Moral Imperative (07/11/2011)

Successful Interruption of Onchocerciasis in a Focus in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (06/01/2011)

TDR Wins 2011 Gates Award for Global Health (05/20/2011)

El control de las enfermedades transmisibles, 19a ed. (05/20/2011)

Bolivia alcanza un hito clave en la lucha contra la enfermedad de Chagas (05/17/2011)

“Malaria Champions of the Americas” Seeks Nominations of Integrated Approaches and Synergies in Efforts against Malaria (04/26/2011)

Some Neglected Diseases Could be Eliminated in the Americas, PAHO Paper Says (02/19/2011)

PAHO Director: Reducing Poverty is Key to Face Neglected Diseases (02/10/2011)

12th International Dengue Course (8-19 August 2011) (01/05/2011)

2010

Rhodnius prolixus en Centroamérica, un peligroso vector de la enfermedad de Chagas que deja de serlo (12/12/2010)

Aedes Aegypti: medidas para el control del vector (11/29/2010)

PAHO Names "Malaria Champions of the Americas 2010" (11/04/2010)

PAHO Celebrates Fourth Annual “Malaria Day in the Americas," Recognizes “Malaria Champions" (10/29/2010)

Moquegua logró interrumpir transmisión de milenaria enfermedad de chagas en su región (09/20/2010)

Se realizará certificación de la eliminación de la transmisión vectorial de la enfermedad de Chagas en la región Moquegua - Perú (09/14/2010)

Expertos en resistencia a los antimaláricos se reúnen en Panamá (07/14/2010)

World Malaria Day: Counting Malaria Out (04/28/2010)

Malaria Burden More than Halved in the Americas (04/22/2010)

Prevention of Blindness and Eye Care (03/30/2010)

2009

PAHO Recognizes "Winning Global Health Solutions" (12/15/2009)

PAHO and Canada Target Communicable Diseases in South America (11/19/2009)

Health Ministers Set Ambitious Agenda for the Americas (10/02/2009)

PAHO, PAHEF, and The George Washington University launch the Malaria Champions of the Americas Award (06/16/2009)

PAHO, PAHEF, and The George Washington University launch the Malaria Champions of the Americas Award (06/16/2009)

XI International Dengue Course (Havana, Cuba, 10-21 August 2009) (04/01/2009)

XI International Dengue Course (Havana, Cuba, 10-21 August 2009) (04/01/2009)

Ministers Commit to New Action in Health (02/02/2009)

2008

PAHO, IDB and Sabin refine fight against neglected diseases in Latin America and Caribbean (12/17/2008)

Malaria in the Americas: No Time to Ease Up (11/06/2008)

An Achievable Dream: Eliminating some Diseases from the Region (02/01/2008)

2005

Meeting of National Directors of Epidemiology and Malaria Programs (11/11/2005)

Vth Meeting of the Surveillance Network for Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Amazon Countries (04/23/2005)

2004

Third Joint Meeting of the Networks for Surveillance of Emerging Infectious Diseases (03/01/2004)

2002

2nd Meeting of the Surveillance Network for Emerging Diseases in the Amazon and Southern Cone Regions (03/25/2002)

2nd Meeting of the Surveillance Network for Emerging Diseases in the Amazon and Southern Cone Regions (03/25/2002)

2nd Meeting of the Surveillance Network for Emerging Diseases in the Amazon and Southern Cone Regions (03/25/2002)

2nd Meeting of the Surveillance Network for Emerging Diseases in the Amazon and Southern Cone Regions (03/25/2002)

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

© Pan American Health Organization. All rights reserved.