How Common Is the Infection?
Worldwide, hepatitis B is a common and serious infection. More than one million people around the world die from liver failure or liver cancer resulting from hepatitis B infection. Fortunately, this infection is rare in the United States and other developed countries. However, due to the large influx of immigration to many countries and the ease of international travel, it is becoming increasingly common, even in developed parts of the world.
About 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis B infection, and more than 4,000 people die each year from hepatitis B liver disease, including liver failure and liver cancer.
Since most people who are infected show no symptoms, the only way to find those who are infected is through a blood test. There is no routine screening for hepatitis B, so the number of infections in the general population could actually be higher. Most people infected with hepatitis B have no idea that they carry the infection in their body.