The NHS is set to eliminate hepatitis C in England by 2025 due to targeted screening campaigns for those at risk and effective drug treatments, according to health officials. NHS England said the measures are helping to dramatically cut deaths from the virus five years ahead of global targets.
Deaths from hepatitis C – including liver disease and cancer – have fallen by 35% since NHS England struck a five-year deal worth almost £1bn to buy antiviral drugs for thousands of patients in 2018.
The World Health Organization’s target of a 10% reduction in hepatitis C-related death by 2020 has been exceeded threefold in England.
An NHS screening programme launched in September is also enabling up to 80,000 people unknowingly living with the disease to get a diagnosis and treatment sooner by searching health records for key risk factors, such as historic blood transfusions or HIV.
Prof Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said the health service was “leading the world” in the drive to save lives and eliminate hepatitis C while also tackling health inequalities.
He said: “Thanks to targeted screening and because the NHS has a proven track record of striking medicine agreements that give patients access to the latest drugs, we are on track to beat global targets and become the first country to eliminate hepatitis C.”
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Source: The Guardian, 28 December 2022