World Hepatitis Day: Progress and Opportunities

Today, World Hepatitis Day 28th July 2015, offers an important opportunity to look at the progress that has been made in addressing hepatitis C in the UK and across the world to date, and to reflect on the opportunities that now exist to tackle it.

Viral hepatitis remains a significant global public health issue, with 400 million people living with hepatitis B or C worldwide and 1.4 million people dying preventable deaths caused by viral hepatitis each year. With better awareness and understanding, we can eliminate viral hepatitis and save 4000 lives a day. In the UK, 214,000 people are estimated to have chronic hepatitis C, with treatment rates remaining low at around 3% and hospital admissions and deaths rising. The range of new treatments becoming available for hepatitis C, however, means that there is a real opportunity to eliminate the virus as a serious public health concern.

To mark World Hepatitis Day, The Hepatitis C Trust has a range of activities and events planned:

  • On 28th July from 10am - 2pm, Virendra Sharma MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Hepatology Group, will host an awareness raising and testing event with The Hepatitis C Trust in his constituency of Ealing Southall, an area with a high hepatitis C prevalence rate.
  • The Hepatitis C Trust's Peer to Peer Educator, Archie Christian, can be heard today on national Prison Radio, alongside Public Health England's Health and Justice Lead Dr Eamonn O'Moore, providing information on hepatitis C, its risks and the importance of getting tested.
  • On the 3rd of August, a patients' conference will be held to mark World Hepatitis Day - giving patients an opportunity to hear more about new treatments, and to explore how they can use their collective voice to inspire change.

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, today said:

"There is a real need to upscale our approach to hepatitis C. In order to avert the rising number of deaths from hepatitis C, we need to rapidly diagnose, test and treat all of those people in the country with the virus. With a raft of new treatments now available, we really can eliminate hepatitis C as a serious public health concern. On this World Hepatitis Day, we are calling on the UK Government and the devolved administrations to now commit to this aim."

A message of support for World Hepatitis Day has been given by Jane Ellison MP, the Minister for Public Health, who has issued a statement saying:

"Today, World Hepatitis Day 28th July 2015, serves to remind us of the important need to continue raising awareness about hepatitis C, a treatable and curable virus, and of the need for more people to be tested and provided with access to treatment. As a major cause of health inequality and of avoidable mortality, addressing hepatitis C is a priority for the Government, and I encourage local services to work together to ensure we continue to maintain good prevention practices, improve awareness and, in particular, increase testing and treatment with the highly effective new drugs now available."