NPR

A Neglected Family Of Killer Viruses

The five hepatitis viruses claim over 1 million lives each year. Yet the attention — and funding — can't compete with HIV, TB and malaria.
This computer-generated image shows the structure of the hepatitis B virus. / Science Picture Co / Getty Images

We think of HIV, TB and malaria as some of the deadliest infectious diseases on earth. And the death tolls bear that out.

But there's a family of viruses that is in the same league: hepatitis viruses.

There are five of them. Their alphabet soup of names tells us the order in which they were discovered: hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. According to a new report from the Global Burden of Disease, the viruses kill 1.34 million people a year.

By contrast, HIV/AIDS claims 1 million lives a year. Estimates vary for malaria (from 429,000 deaths by WHO's calculations to 719,000 deaths according to the new report). TB statistics range from 1.2 million in the study to 1.8 million from WHO).

The report from the Global Burden of Disease Study is conducted by the at the was published in the earlier this month.

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