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Scott Med J. 2006 May;51(2):8-15.

Hepatitis C virus infection in Scotland: epidemiological review and public health challenges.

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  • 1Health Protection Scotland, Glasgow, UK.



In 2004, Scotland's Health Minister stated that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) "is one of the most serious and significant public health risks of our generation".


To appreciate the prevention and care challenges posed by HCV in Scotland, we reviewed all country-specific data on i) the prevalence of infection among different populations, ii) the numbers infected with HCV, and iii) the current and future HCV disease burden.


An estimated 1% of Scotland's population has HCV; 85-90% of those infected were injecting drug users (IDUs). Reductions in HCV prevalence among young IDUs during the early 1990s suggest that the incidence of HCV had decreased; since then, the absence of further reductions highlight that existing prevention measures are insufficient. Two-thirds of the estimated 37,500 chronically HCV-infected individuals in Scotland remain undiagnosed and two-thirds of this group are former IDUs. An estimated 9,000 former IDUs were living with either moderate or severe HCV disease in 2004; if the current uptake of antiviral therapy continues, this number was estimated to double by 2016. Approximately 1,200 HCV-infected IDUs had developed liver failure by 2004; this figure was predicted to increase to 3,200 by 2020.


Scotland faces three principal public health challenges: i) the prevention of HCV among current IDUs, ii) the diagnosis of HCV-infected persons, particularly those most in need of therapy to prevent severe HCV disease, and iii) the current and future provision of adequate resources to ensure that the movement of patients through the diagnostic and clinical care pathway is optimal.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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