Public Health England (PHE) has published the 2019 annual hepatitis C virus (HCV) report for England and supporting data. HCV is a major public health threat in the UK. The report summarises the scale of the problem and is intended to support focused action.
The newly published data shows that deaths from serious hepatitis C related liver disease fell from 380 to 319, a 16.1% decrease, between 2015-2017 thanks to new curative treatments. However while England has exceeded the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target to reduce hepatitis C related mortality by 10% by 2020, challenges still exist to eliminate the disease.
As well as the fall in hepatitis C deaths, greater access to new curative treatments is also linked to a reduction in the number of people with the disease requiring liver transplants. In 2017, registrations for a liver transplant due to hepatitis C fell to a 10-year low of 63, a 53% decrease compared to pre-2015 levels.
Challenges to meeting the WHO target of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030 remain, with 113,000 people estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis C in England in 2018.
Estimates indicate that up to 79,000 people are currently living with undiagnosed active hepatitis C infection. This is because people with the infection often have no specific symptoms until their liver has been significantly damaged and so are unaware they are infected. When symptoms do occur, they can often be mistaken for other conditions.
PHE is urging those who may have been at risk of contracting hepatitis C, especially if they have ever injected drugs, to get tested.
The slide set and infographic which accompanies the 2019 report are also available to download.
Also available on the PHE website are the latest reports on the situation in the whole of the UK (2018), the headline data table for the HCV in England 2019 report and the HCV in England 2018 report.
Sources: PHE, 9 April 2019 and PHE, 9 April 2019