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Hepatitis B

Understanding what Hepatitis B is?

Hepatitis B is inflammation of the Liver due to an infection with the Hepatitis B virus. The severity of the disease can range from a mild illness lasting only a few weeks (called acute infection), to a lifelong, serious (and potentially deadly) illness (called chronic infection.)

How common is Chronic Hepatitis B?

  • Chronic Hepatitis B is known to be a global problem.
  • More than 250 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B virus.
  • Chronic infection causes more than 650 000 deaths each year. Approximately 2.5 million people in South Africa have chronic Hepatitis B.

How likely is it that acute Hepatitis B will become chronic?

  • The likelihood depends on the age at which a person becomes infected.
  • The younger a person is when they are infected with Hepatitis B virus, the greater the chance that the infection will become chronic.
  • Approximately 90% of infants who are infected around the time of birth will develop chronic infection.
  • The risk decreases as you get older, dropping to around 5% if you are infected as an adult.

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