Ireland on track towards hepatitis C elimination

Ireland is on track to meet global targets for the elimination of hepatitis C, health officials have said, as new figures show that more than 5,500 people ordered a home-test kit to check for the condition in the last 12 months.

In 2016, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) strategy on viral hepatitis targeted an 80 per cent reduction in new hepatitis C infections by 2030, from 2015 levels.

As part of efforts to reduce and treat infections, the HSE launched a home-testing kit service in April 2023. The free service allows adults to test for hepatitis C privately at home, via a finger-prick blood sample. The sample is then posted back for lab analysis.

Individuals with positive results are contacted by a nurse specialist and further testing arranged. Those diagnosed with hepatitis C are fast-tracked to treatment which usually involves tablets and leads to cure in the majority of cases in around 8-12 weeks.

Since 2015 the National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme has treated more than 7,000 people, 95 per cent of whom are now cured, and is on track to reach the WHO elimination targets for 2030.

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