Health Desk—April 21, 2017: About 325 million people are living with hepatitis B or C and few are aware of their condition, with death tolls from the viruses rising, the UN said Friday.
The World Health Organization's latest hepatitis report identifies the condition as a grave public health threat that needs an "urgent response."
Earlier in 2015, hepatitis killed 1.34 million people, a toll roughly in-line with HIV and tuberculosis.
But in contrast to HIV and TB, hepatitis deaths are increasing, WHO said, recording a 22 percent mortality rise from 2000 to 2014.
Lack of access to testing and treatment leaves "millions of people at risk of a slow progression to chronic liver disease, cancer and death", WHO said in a statement.
WHO's latest data shows that hepatitis C -- for which there is no vaccine -- is most commonly spread through unsafe injections, notably among drug users.
However, in order to treat nearly 80 percent of sufferers worldwide by 2030, WHO is trying to ramp up the global hepatitis response with high responsibility.