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31 July 2019, 11:06
The Scottish Government has set a target to effectively eliminate hepatitis C by 2024.
NHS Scotland will increase the number of people treated for the potentially fatal blood-borne virus to at least 2,500 in 2019-20 and to at least 3,000 annually from 2020-21 as part of these efforts.
Around 21,000 people are estimated to be living with hepatitis C in Scotland, a condition that causes progressive damage to the liver.
By setting an aim to eliminate the virus by 2024, Scotland will have a target six years ahead of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO wants to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat - including treating 80% of those who are eligible for treatment and reducing mortality from hepatitis C infection by 65% - by 2030.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "Scotland has long been known as a world leader when it comes to tackling hepatitis C and this ambitious target confirms that we are still leading the way in our mission to effectively eliminate the virus by 2024 six years ahead of the World Health Organisations expectations.
"Recent figures show we are exceeding our targets on the number of people we are treating for hepatitis C and it is vital that we maintain this momentum.
"We must keep getting the message out that hepatitis C can be cured with a short course of pills, and that anyone who has ever been at risk should get tested."