British researchers have found that genotype 1 is the most prevalent hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide, with more than 83 million patients infected by the virus, with genotype 3 in the second place followed by genotypes 2, 4, 6, and 5, a new study published in the journal Hepatology reveals. Despite efforts to control HCV, it remains one of the most prevalent diseases globally, with up to 150 million patients living with chronic infection according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Previous research shows that chronic HCV leads to the development liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or liver cancer, liver failure and death. WHO reports that 350,000 to 500,000 deaths each year are caused by liver diseases related to HCV.
"While the HCV infection rate is decreasing in developed countries, deaths from liver disease secondary to HCV will continue increasing over the next 20 years," explains lead co-author Dr. Jane Messina with the University of Oxford in the U.K. "Understanding the global trends in the genetic makeup of HCV is the focus of our study and imperative in developing new treatment strategies that may save millions of lives around the world."