HealthDay News — Hepatitis B and C could be eliminated as serious public health problems in the United States by 2030, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH, from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, and colleagues address potential approaches to reducing mortality caused by hepatitis B and C.

The researchers note that morbidity and mortality from viral hepatitis could be eliminated as serious public health issues by 2030, thereby preventing nearly 90,000 deaths. The tools are already available to prevent these deaths and include vaccination for hepatitis B and treatment of hepatitis C with short and easily tolerable courses of medications. 

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The number of deaths from hepatitis B could be halved by 2030, averting 60,000 deaths, by diagnosing 90% of the nation’s chronic hepatitis B patients, bringing 90% of those to care, and treating 80% of those with indications for treatment. Treating all patients with chronic hepatitis C would reduce new infections by about 90% by 2030, and reduce hepatitis C deaths by 65%. These actions could avert 28,800 deaths by 2030.

Viral hepatitis is simply not a sufficient priority in the United States,” Dr Strom said in a statement. “Despite being the seventh leading cause of death in the world — and killing more people every year than HIV, road traffic accidents, or diabetes — viral hepatitis accounts for less than 1% of the National Institutes of Health research budget.”

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U.S. could be rid of hepatitis B and C as public health problems, preventing nearly 90,000 deaths by 2030, with better attention to prevention, screening, treatment, and creative financing for medicines [press release]. Washington DC: The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine. Published March 28, 2017. Accessed April 6, 2017.