Study findings: How can the hepatitis C virus be eliminated in Canada by 2030?

Treatment pills

A CanHepC study published in the JAMA Network Open estimated the national hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment rates to sustain in Canada to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) HCV elimination targets by 2030.

The WHO has set targets to eliminate viral hepatitis globally with the aim of reducing new HCV infections by 80% and HCV-related deaths by 65% by 2030. To meet these targets, a certain number of people living with HCV need to be treated each year. In 2017, an estimated 180,000 people in Canada were living with HCV and an estimated 12,718 people were treated. Over 95% of people treated for HCV are cured.

CanHepC researchers used mathematical modeling to predict which of five treatment scenarios would help Canada meet WHO’s 2030 HCV elimination targets. Treatment scenarios ranged from very aggressive (about 14,000 people treated each year) down to as few as 4,500 people treated each year. The study showed that to reach the 2030 target, approximately 10,200 people with HCV would need to be treated each year, from 2018 to 2030. Alternatively, the 2030 target could also be reached if 12,000 people were treated each year, with a gradual drop to 8,500 treated each year.

Meeting the WHO target could mean a 74% drop in the number of people with serious liver damage (decompensated cirrhosis), a 69% drop in liver cancer, and a 69% drop in liver-related death. The authors also discussed the challenges of maintaining high treatment rates for these years. To meet these treatment levels, multiple measures would be needed, including various supports for HCV testing, diagnosis, and keeping people engaged in care and prevention.

Binka M, Janjua NZ, Grebely J,et al. Assessment of treatment strategies to achieve hepatitis C elimination in Canada using a validated model. JAMA Network Open. 2020; 3(5):e204192.