Scottish Government commits to the elimination of hepatitis C

The Scottish Government yesterday launched the 2015 - 2020 Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework, and in doing so committed to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern. The Framework drives hepatitis C strategy in Scotland, and represents the next step in the nation's world-leading steps to tackle the virus.

In addition to expressing the Scottish Government's commitment to the elimination of hepatitis C, the Framework commits Scotland to treating at least 1500 people per year for the next five years; a 20% increase in the numbers of people treated in 2014. The Framework also contains a number of measures designed to increase the numbers of people tested and diagnosed, including the introduction of opt-out blood borne virus testing in Scottish prisons, as well as investigating the effectiveness of a population-based case-finding approach to testing, i.e. targeted screening among at-risk groups.

Launching the new Framework yesterday at the World Hepatitis Summit in Glasgow, Shona Robison MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing) said:

"The innovation of new therapies for hepatitis C is a watershed moment for viral hepatitis, and we have recognised the importance of this by increasing our national treatment targets for the disease. We must also not lose focus on the vital issue of prevention of disease. Scotland will continue to invest in prevention initiatives and this must be a central part of any national and international plan...I am pleased to say that Scotland is committed to eliminating hepatitis C as a public health problem within Scotland - something that I am proud that we can realistically commit to achieving only because of the foundation work we have laid over the past ten years."

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, welcomed the new Framework, saying:

"We are delighted that the Scottish Government has committed to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern. This is a commitment that we have been campaigning heavily for, and we are pleased that the Scottish Government agree with us when we say that eliminating hepatitis C is not only something that we can do, but something that we must do. Scotland has yet again shown great leadership in tackling hepatitis C, and we look forward to working alongisde the Scottish Government and other partners in the years ahead to ensure that the aims of the Framework are not only realised, but exceeded."

To read the Framework in full, follow this link http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00484414.pdf.