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The road to elimination of hepatitis C: analysis of cures versus new infections in 91 countries

Author List
Andrew M Hill
Sanjay Nath
Bryony Simmons

Abstract

Background: Hepatitis C (HCV) can only be eradicated if annual rates of cure (SVR) are consistently and significantly higher than new HCV infections, across many countries. In 2016, the WHO called for a 90% reduction in new HCV infection by 2030. Direct-acting antivirals (DAA) can cure the majority of those treated, at around 90% in most populations, at potentially very low prices. We compared the net annual change in epidemic size across 91 countries using data on SVR, new HCV infections, and deaths. In a further 109 countries, we projected this figure using regional averages of epidemic size. Methods: Epidemiological data for 2016 were extracted from national reports, publications and the Polaris Observatory. There were 91/210 countries with data on SVR, HCV-related deaths and new infections available for analysis; 109 countries had net change in epidemic size projected from the regional prevalence of HCV, extrapolated to their population size. ‘Net cure’ was defined as the number of people with SVR, minus new HCV infections, plus HCV-related deaths in 2016. Results: For the 91 countries analysed, there were 57.3 million people with chronic HCV infection in 2016. In the remaining 109 countries, the projected epidemic size was 12.2 million, giving a global epidemic size of 69.6 million. Across the 91 countries, there was a fall from 57.3 to 56.9 million people in 2017, a 0.7% reduction. The projected global net change was from 69.6 to 69.3 million, a 0.4% reduction. Ten countries had at least five times more people reaching SVR than new HCV infections, including Egypt and USA. In 47/91 countries, there were more HCV infections than SVR in 2016. Conclusion: Very few countries are on target to achieve elimination of HCV as a public health problem by 2030. While the North American, North African/Middle East and Western European regions have shown small declines in prevalence, the epidemic is growing in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. Far higher rates of DAA treatment are required for worldwide elimination of HCV.

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