U.S. Viral Hepatitis Death Statistics

Viral Hepatitis Deaths Mortality

In 2016, viral hepatitis caused

6,421 deaths

—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hepatitis is typically caused by a viral infection which results in the inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ tasked with the job of filtering blood, processing nutrients, and fighting off infections. A number of factors can cause hepatitis, including heavy alcohol use; however, the most common cause is by viruses, which can be spread through contaminated food and drinks, by sharing needles, and by sexual intercourse. 

Hepatitis Types

There are five types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C ,D, and E. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common types of hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) [1]. 

The virus can be transmitted in several ways depending on the hepatitis type. HAV and Hepatitis E are most commonly transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water, while HCV and HBV are more commonly contracted through contact with infected blood and other bodily fluids [2].

The different types of hepatitis are ultimately unrelated and have different key characteristics. For example, Hepatitis A and B are preventable by vaccine, while Hepatitis C is not [1]. Different types of hepatitis have different long-term effects on a person's liver. 

Many people diagnosed with hepatitis are asymptomatic, meaning they don't show noticeable symptoms. As a result, hepatitis can often go unidentified for a long time.

"About 2 in 3 people with hepatitis B do not know they are infected." 

—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [1]

How does viral hepatitis vary by state?

New Mexico had the highest age-adjusted rate of hepatitis deaths in 2016, at 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people. A number of states had no data to report—the CDC suppresses death data for locations with fewer than 10 deaths, to protect individuals' privacy; it also lists death rates with low numerators (less than 20 deaths) as unreliable. To see data for other years, use the time-slider beneath the map.

How does viral hepatitis affect different demographics?

By Age

Deaths from hepatitis can vary depending on age. HCV is found in high rates among people born between 1945 and 1965, also known as the baby boomer generation. It is believed baby boomers likely contracted the virus when rates were highest in the 1970's and 1980's. According to the CDC, 75 to 80 percent of people with Hepatitis C develop a chronic infection [1]. 

To help this population, the CDC began a "Know More Hepatitis" campaign in 2012. [2] The campaign encourages baby boomers to get tested in hopes that taking care earlier on will decrease mortality and morbidity rates.

"75% of people with Hepatitis C were born from 1945-1965" 

—CDC, Know More Hepatitis Campaign [3]

By Sex

While both sexes are capable of contracting the hepatitis viruses, men suffer disproportionately more fatalities from the disease. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at particular risk of infection from hepatitis viruses, according to the CDC. [1]

By Race

Reports from the Health and Human Services Agency and the CDC state that some racial/ethnic groups are at higher risk for certain strains of the virus. For example, Asian American and Pacific Islanders are most seriously effected by HBV. This group makes up approximately 5 percent of the U.S. population, but make up about 50 percent of all people living with HBV [4]. 

More Information

More Information

1. "What is Viral Hepatitis?" Center for Disease Control, 2018.

2. "About the Campaign- Know More Hepatitis" Center for Disease Control, 2017.

3. "Know More Hepatitis." Center for Disease Control, 2017.

4. "Viral Hepatitis in the United States: Data and Trends." Health and Human Services Agency, 2016. 

Source: Know More Hepatitis Campaign, Centers for Disease Control  [3].

About the Data

Mortality data in this story was queried from the CDC Wonder API, based on the following parameters:

• UCD code: [B15-B19].

The charts show the CDC's Viral Hepatitis Mortality data's age-adjusted rate, with the exception of the chart comparing deaths by age group.