Plan to eliminate Hepatitis C in Scotland by 2024

Wednesday 31th July 2019

Plans to treat more people annually for hepatitis C will see Scotland effectively eliminate the condition six years ahead of the World Health Organisation’s expectations, the Scottish Government has said.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick has committed to increase the number of people treated for the potentially fatal blood-borne virus to at least 2,500 in 2019-20 and to at least 3,000 annually from 2020-21.

On Sunday, reported concerns from NHS Tayside’s blood borne virus team that too few people who could benefit from improved treatment for the condition were coming forward.

Six NHS boards have joined forces with Hepatitis Scotland to raise awareness around testing and treatments and in particular to let more people know that the condition can now be cured.

Scotland has long been known as a world leader when it comes to tackling hepatitis C and this ambitious target confirms that we are still leading the way in our mission to effectively eliminate the virus by 2024 six years ahead of the World Health Organisations expectations,” says Mr FitzPatrick.

Recent figures show we are exceeding our targets on the number of people we are treating for hepatitis C and it is vital that we maintain this momentum.

We must keep getting the message out that hepatitis C can be cured with a short course of pills, and that anyone who has ever been at risk should get tested.”

In Scotland there are an estimated 21,000 people living with hepatitis C, which causes progressive damage to the liver.

If NHS Scotland is successful in increasing the number of people treated annually at the rate Government has set out, the condition will be effectively eliminated by 2024.

During 2018-19 NHS Scotland exceeded the target to treat 2,000 people for hepatitis C.

The World Health Organisation has set targets for the elimination of hepatitis C, including treating 80% of those who are eligible for treatment and reducing mortality from hepatitis C infection by 65% by 2030 globally.