The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that
257 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis B
virus (HBV) infection and another 71 million people have
chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.1 In 2015, both
infections accounted for 1.34 million deaths worldwide
and this worked out to 2.5 deaths every minute from 1 of
the hepatitis viruses. Such diseases of the liver have vexed
physicians for centuries and was described by Virchow as
“catarrhal jaundice” about 100 years ago.2 Realising that
the condition was probably infectious owing to clustered
outbreaks, the term “serum vs infectious hepatitis” was
subsequently coined. It was not until 1965 when the late
physician, Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discovered HBV in
the blood of an Australian aborigine as one of the main
culprits of “serum hepatitis”.
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