Viral hepatitis refers to a spectrum of diseases caused by one of eight identified hepatotropic viruses that affect humans. The most important, in terms of morbidity and cost to healthcare systems, are hepatitis B and C, which collectively affect over 500 m people worldwide. Causes of morbidity and mortality relate to cirrhosis, disability, portal hypertension and its complications, as well as hepatocellular carcinoma, one of the most common somatic malignancies worldwide. Historically, interferon (IFN) has been the only treatment available to treat chronic viral hepatitis, but there are several other potentially effective alternatives on the horizon.
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