Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick has committed to increase the number of people treated for the potentially fatal blood-borne virus to at least 3,000 annually from 2020-21.

In Scotland, there are an estimated 21,000 people living with hepatitis C, which causes progressive damage to the liver.

By increasing the number of people treated annually, Mr FitzPatrick said NHS Scotland will be able to effectively eliminate the condition by 2024.

Working closely with Health Protection Scotland (HPS), a research team at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), led by Professors Sharon Hutchinson and David Goldberg, evaluated the impact of the Scottish Government’s action plan on hepatitis C and produced evidence to inform this new strategy on elimination.

Other researchers involved in the proposed strategy, commissioned and now endorsed by the Scottish Government, were GCU epidemiologist and researcher Hamish Innes and Professor of Hepatology and Gastroenterology John Dillon at the University of Dundee.

Professor Hutchinson, who holds an honorary appointment at HPS, said: “I’m delighted that Scottish Government has endorsed the plan to further scale-up therapy in Scotland, to help achieve the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern by the end of 2024, ahead of World Health Organization’s global target of 2030.

“Serious challenges still remain to achieving that goal, but Scotland is well placed to take advantage of the hepatitis C therapeutic revolution with its advanced service infrastructure and committed workforce.”

This week, Professor Hutchinson is on the other side of the world guiding health professionals in Australia towards eliminating hepatitis C.

She is a keynote speaker at the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Conference 2019 in Sydney, which focuses on the elimination of hepatitis B and C by increasing diagnosis and testing, and improving care, treatment and reinfection strategies.

Professor Hutchinson has written over 180 epidemiological research publications and leads a broad research programme on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of hepatitis C and other blood-borne viruses.