Data shows UK not on track to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030

New data on hepatitis C released by the Polaris Observatory, and presented at the World Hepatitis Summit in São Paulo, show that just nine countries are on track to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) target of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030, with the UK not among them.

The latest data from the Polaris Observatory (led by Dr Homie Razavi and colleagues at the Center for Disease Analysis Foundation, USA) show that just 62,200 (38%) of an estimated 162,000 people living with hepatitis C in the UK are diagnosed.

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: "Even these numbers overestimate how many people are available for treatment because the majority of the 'diagnosed' are not in touch with services for a variety of reasons. Many were diagnosed years ago. They were never informed how deadly hepatitis C can be and they do not know about the new drugs and how extraordinarily effective and easy to take they are. We have at least 100,000 people to find. If we don't find them, not only will we never reach the goal of elimination, but significant numbers will die. To be honest, with these new drugs available, if anyone dies of hepatitis C, it should be viewed as an appalling failure of the system."

Speaking about the situation in England, Dr Razavi said: "To make the 2030 elimination target, at least 10,000 patients need to be treated each year, and there are already signs that it is becoming harder to find diagnosed patients to treat. Although in 2016 some 10,000 people were treated and in 2017 this could reach 12,500, the projections suggest the annual total will drop to an estimated 5,000 patients treated per year by 2020 without better diagnosis and linkage to care."

The nine countries reported to be on track to achieve elimination by 2030 are Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan, the Netherlands and Qatar.