Hepatitis C may become rare by 2036: Study

New York: The deadly hepatitis C could become a rare disease by the year 2036 owing to new effective drugs and widespread screening, says a study.

"If we can improve access to treatment and incorporate more aggressive screening guidelines, we can reduce the number of chronic HCV (hepatitis C) cases, prevent more cases of liver cancer and reduce liver-related deaths," said Jagpreet Chhatwal, an assistant professor at the University of Texas of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the US.

In the study, Chhatwal and his collaborators used a mathematical model with information from several sources including more than 30 clinical trials to predict the impact of new therapies called "direct-acting antivirals" and the use of screening for chronic HCV cases.

Researchers developed a computer model to analyse and predict disease trends from 2001-50.

With new screening guidelines and therapies, HCV will affect only one in 1,500 people in the US by 2036, researchers predicted.

HCV - a virus transmitted through the blood - is spread by sharing needles, the use of contaminated medical equipment and by tattoo and piercing equipment that has not been fully sterilised.

Those at the highest risk of exposure are baby boomers - people born between 1945-65.

The model predicts one-time HCV screening of baby boomers would help identify 487,000 cases over the next 10 years.

The study appeared in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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