PHE publish report on hepatitis C in the UK

14 August 2018

Article: 52/3204

In the UK, around 200,000 people have chronic (long-term) infection with hepatitis C virus. A new report from Public Health England (PHE) summarises the scale of the UK hepatitis C challenge, in order to support focused action to eliminate the condition as a major public health threat by 2030 at the latest.

Early estimates indicate that the numbers of new cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related end-stage liver disease (ESLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the UK remained relatively stable, at an average of 1,974 new cases per year between 2011 and 2015. However, mortality data suggest a fall in death registrations from these indications of 3% by 2016, with data suggesting a further fall of 11% in 2017. While 2017 data are still provisional, it seems likely that the fall observed since 2015 is the result of the increased treatment with new direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs that has taken place over recent years.

This publication reports Scotland-level data; in 2017/18 an estimated 34,000 people with chronic hepatitis C infection were living in Scotland and 2,082 were treated for their HCV - a figure which represents the highest ever annual treatment total. Since the introduction of oral DAA treatments in 2014, a 30% decline in new presentations of liver failure among those diagnosed HCV antibody positive has been observed (2014, 168 cases; 2017, 118 cases). In contrast, new presentations with HCC among those diagnosed HCV antibody positive were still increasing between 2014 (56 cases) and 2016 (79 cases). In 2017, however, the number of new presentations of HCC fell by 53% to 37 cases. These encouraging observations suggest that HCV treatment is having a considerable impact in preventing liver failure and liver cancer in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is currently preparing an HCV elimination strategy for Scotland in the context of the World Health Organisation’s aim of eliminating HCV as a public health threat by 2030.

Source: PHE, 8 August 2018