Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune Hepatitis, also known as AIH, is a chronic (condition that lasts longer than six months), usually lifelong liver condition. It is an autoimmune disorder; this means your body’s immune system (the body’s defence against illness) attacks your body’s own cells.

How common is Autoimmune Hepatitis?

Autoimmune Hepatitis is uncommon. It is estimated to affect between 10 and 17 people per 100,000 in Europe. This means it is likely that there are approximately 10,000 people living with AIH in the UK.

Men and women can develop Autoimmune Hepatitis but it is 3 to 4 times more common in women. It can develop at any age, however, it is more commonly diagnosed in women around the age of 45. It can affect all ethnic groups.

Thirty to fifty percent of people diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis have another autoimmune condition, such as thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis or Type 1 diabetes.

What causes Autoimmune Hepatitis?

The cause of most cases of Autoimmune Hepatitis is not clear; but is thought to be a mixture of:

  • autoimmunity – the process of your immune system making autoantibodies, which ‘attack’ and damage your body’s own cells and organs
  • environmental triggers – causes starting outside of the body; for example getting a virus, taking certain medications, or coming into contact with other toxins
  • genetic predisposition – inheriting genes which may make it easier for a trigger to set off the disease.