Health Protection Scotland has published the 2019 update for the 'Surveillance of hepatitis C testing, diagnosis and treatment in Scotland'. The report includes estimates from three hepatitis C virus (HCV) surveillance systems: the hepatitis C diagnoses database, the hepatitis C test database and the hepatitis C treatment initiates.
Following are some key findings from the report:
- A total of 1423 new diagnoses of hepatitis C antibody-positivity were recorded in 2018, the lowest in Scotland since 1996. New diagnoses in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were 1814, 1591 and 1511, respectively.
- An estimated 21,000 individuals were living with chronic HCV infection in Scotland by the end of 2018. Of these, only ~10,500 were diagnosed with HCV.
- Although HCV testing in Scotland remains high, the increasing trend seen between 2000 and 2015 seems to have plateaued during the past three years. A total of 61,376 individuals were tested in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lothian, NHS Tayside and NHS Grampian during 2018.
- Treatment for HCV infection was initiated in 2609 individuals during the financial year 2018-2019. This figure is higher than the government target of initiating treatment in 2000 individuals in that period.
The Health Ministry is committed to increasing the HCV treatment initiation target to 2500 per year in 2019-2020 and at least 3000 per year, 2020-2021 onwards.
Joe FitzPatrick, The Public Health Minister, said: "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."