AKIPRESS.COM - China is facing a hepatitis C epidemic. The infectious disease, which can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and early death if left untreated, has hit rural areas particularly hard, CNN reported.
In June, China recorded 21,419 new cases of hepatitis C and 14 deaths related to the disease, according to new figures released by China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For the whole of 2018, the country had 219,375 new cases -- 43% more than in 2010.
China now has the world's largest burden of hepatitis C -- an estimated 8.9 million people, or 0.6% of the overall population -- according to a WHO study released in March. Many of them will die from it: China accounts for more then half of the world's annual liver cancer fatalities caused by hepatitis C, according to the study.
The disease is commonly spread by shared needles. Consumption of crystal methamphetamine, which has snowballed in recent years in China according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and can be taken by injection or inhalation, has contributed to the growing number of new infections, according to the WHO.