23rd February 2021
The prevalence of hepatitis C among people who inject drugs has fallen sharply in Scotland and modestly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2016, according to a new report from Public Health England.
The annual ‘Shooting Up’ report on infections and injecting behaviour states that around one in four people who inject drugs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has hepatitis C, and one in five in Scotland do.
It also states that chronic hepatitis C infection prevalence in Scotland had fallen from 39% in 2015-2016 and 31% in 2017-2018 to 19% in 2019-2020 and 29% in 2016 to 23% in 2019 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Behavioural surveys analysed in the report found higher rates of testing for hepatitis C in Scotland than the rest of the United Kingdom, although it must be noted that different measures are used and therefore measurements between countries are not directly comparable. Nevertheless, whereas 60% of people who inject drugs in Scotland reported testing for hepatitis C in the previous year, 46% of people surveyed in the rest of the United Kingdom reported a test in the previous year.
In Scotland, 70% of people aware of their infection had accepted treatment in the latest survey period, up from 28% in 2015-2016 and 50% in 2017-2018. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 39% of people who were aware of a hepatitis C diagnosis reported that they had seen a hepatitis specialist and accepted treatment.