HealthDay News — With recent treatment advances, hepatitis C could become a rare disease by 2036, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
United States health officials estimate that over three million Americans currently have chronic hepatitis C – most of whom don’t know it because the infection is usually asymptomatic.
“With the availability of direct-acting antiviral agents, recently approved therapies and those under development, and one-time birth-cohort screening, the burden of this disease is expected to decrease,” wrote Jagpreet Chhatwal, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues.
The researchers used a computer model to estimate the future effects of both hepatitis C screening and new drug regimens. Within the next 22 years, hepatitis C could become rare due to treatment advances, they predicted.
If all patients received a one-time hepatitis C screening, it would nearly double the number of patients diagnosed in the next decade, from 487,00 to almost 934,000, according to the investigators. Nearly 79,000 patients with liver cancer, more than 124,000 patients with cirrhosis, and 126,500 deaths could be averted by 2050.
“New therapies for HCV infection and widespread implementation of screening and treatment will play an important role in reducing the burden of HCV disease,” concluded the researchers.