You are now leaving GSK Malta Health Portal

You are about to leave a GSK Website. By clicking this link, you will be taken to an external website that is not owned or controlled by GSK, and GSK is not responsible for the content provided on this site. If you do not wish to leave this website, click on “Go Back” below:


Go back

Date of preparation: March 2018

Is hepatitis B a serious infection? 

Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral infection that affects the liver and can cause both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) disease. 1

Persistent or chronic HBV infection is among the most common persistent viral infections in humans, 2with about 2 billion individuals infected 3and around 240 million people chronically infected globally (estimation year 2012). 1

It is estimated that around 4.5 million new HBV infections occur each year, of which 15–40% lead to liver disease. 45

HBV is second only to tobacco as a cause of cancer in the world and is the cause of over 50% of all cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) 6which causes up to 700,000 deaths annually worldwide. 4


  1. WHO. Hepatitis B fact sheet. 2015. Available at: Last accessed June 2015.
  2. WHO. Global Alert and Response (GAR): Hepatitis B index 3. Available at: Last accessed June 2015.
  3. WHO. Global Alert and Response (GAR): World Hepatitis Day 2012. Available at: Last accessed June 2015.
  4. Romano L, Paladini S, Van Damme P, et al. The worldwide impact of vaccination on the control and protection of viral hepatitis B. Dig Liver Dis 2011;43(Suppl 1):S2–S7.
  5. Zanetti AR, Van Damme P, Shouval D, et al. The global impact of vaccination against hepatitis B: a historical overview. Vaccine 2008;26:6266–6273.
  6. de Franchis R, Hadengue A, Lau G, et al. Consensus statement, EASL International Consensus Conference on Hepatitis B. J Hepatol 2003;39:S3–S25.

Twinrix is a registered trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies