Viral liver disease is an umbrella term for liver damage caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV) are the most common viral infections leading to liver damage. Despite the different underlying viral infections, the pathogenesis of fibrosis can be divided in two stages. The acute inflammatory stage is followed by a chronic inflammatory stage with simultaneously occurring inflammation, tissue destruction, and repair processes.
How many have viral liver disease?
The prevalence of HBV and HCV varies throughout the world. In 2015, an estimated 2 billion people globally were infected with HBV leading lto 650,000 deaths a year. HCV was estimated to infect 71 million people in 2015.
How is viral liver disease treated?
Treating the underlying viral infection is most optimal. Currently, several antiviral drugs (lamivudine, adefovir, entecavir, telbivudine, tenofovir, emtricitabine, standard, and PEG-IFN) have shown to delay the progression of cirrhosis but rarely cure the viral infection. Lifelong treatment is therefore necessary in most cases.
How is viral liver disease diagnosed?
The diagnosis of viral liver disease relies primarily on symptoms. Currently, diagnosis is based on the presence of a viral agent and on blood tests to assess the liver function. If blood tests suggest decreased liver function and advanced liver damage, further tests including imaging and liver biopsies might be necessary.