The recognition of viral hepatitis as a world health problem predates modern times. As early as the eighth century AD in a letter to St. Boniface, Pope Zacharius recognized viral hepatitis to be a contagious disease. Since the Middle Ages, frequent epidemics of acute viral hepatitis have occurred during war. Epidemics occurred during the American Civil War, both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Viral hepatitis remains a major world health problem. In the United States more than 55.000 new cases are diagnosed each year, with an estimated ten times as many unreported cases. The total cost to this country from viral hepatitis in one year has been estimated at over $650 million. It is apparent that there are high risk settings for the development of viral hepatitis. In this country, predisposed individuals are health care employees, renal dialysis and oncology patients, male homosexuals, and parenteral drug abusers. The recent demonstration that an active vaccine for hepatitis B virus significantly decreased the attack rate among male homosexuals provides encouragement that another world health problem will eventually be controlled. This paper will review the current status of the various hepatitis viruses: type A, type B, and non-A, non-B viruses.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|State||Published - Dec 1 1982|
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