Opinion: Renew strategy to achieve a hepatitis C free future (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)
Friday is World Hepatitis Day and we have much to celebrate. We have made great strides in our work toward eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030, but there are still critical areas where we can and must do more.
Thousands of B.C. patients with hepatitis C have already been cured. There are patients who have been diagnosed and meet existing criteria and have cure rates approaching 100 per cent with minimal side effects for most. And starting next year, the B.C. Ministry of Health will make these new therapies available for any British Columbian living with chronic hepatitis C, regardless of the type or severity of their disease. When factoring in the positive health system impacts such as fewer transplants and reduced end-stage disease, the economic analyses is clear — treatment is very cost-effective. The value in human terms with improved quality of life and productivity cannot be overlooked, and helping people to be hepatitis C free is an important piece in reaching and sustaining positive outcomes.
The group most impacted by hepatitis C — some 60,000 people in B.C. — are baby boomers born between 1945 to 1964. Recent research led by B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found peak infection for baby boomers occurred in those who were aged five in 1950. This age group may have been infected by inadequately sterilized needles used in health care settings. This data disproved the earlier assumptions that those most at risk were ’60s-era young people who engaged in high-risk sex or drug use.
Daryl Luster writes