In sub-Saharan Africa, chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a profoundly important public health issue characterised by high prevalence, frequent co-infection with HIV, and sub-optimally applied ascertainment and management strategies. Prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in the general population varies geographically, with the highest rates (>8%) measured in West Africa. Among people living with HIV, between 6% and 25% are co-infected with HBV, and co-infection accelerates fibrosis and increases the risk of liver-related mortality and development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) compared to HIV-negative controls.
World Hepatitis Day, on 28 July, is both a chance to celebrate the progress made in sub-Saharan Africa and an opportunity to focus on the action now needed to reverse the increasing tide of disease.
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