The gradual progression of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can compromise liver function and cause cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The action of the virus is silent and can be maintained for years, but it is not inexorable: treatment with direct-acting antivirals (oral drugs and almost no side effects) cures the infection in practically all cases.
Spain is the country in the world that has treated the most patients with hepatitis C per million population: at least 165,000, from the Alliance for the Elimination of Viral Hepatitis in Spain (Aehve). However, they also estimate that almost 30% of people with active infection are unaware of their situation. The most are between 40 and 69 years old.
Work is being done everywhere to detect these infected people as soon as possible and thus treat them, using different approaches. But the strategy that is being carried out in Galicia has some innovative ingredients that make it stand out from other formulas.
In addition, it invites us to think that the region will be the first in Europe to reach the goal of eliminating hepatitis C proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO). An objective that pursues, among other indicators, to reduce new infections by 90% by 2030 and in more than 65% the deaths with respect to 2015, when the curative treatments appeared.
The Plan launched five months ago by the Galician Public Health Directorate contemplates opportunistic age screeningunderstood as the automatic offer of the hepatitis C test to any person of a certain age who, for whatever reason, goes to the health system and has to have a blood test done.