Istanbul, Turkey – Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major global public health concern. There are approximately 9 million people infected with HCV in Europe, including more than 2% of the population in Turkey.
Many people who have severe HCV infections (60-70% of HCV cases) do not experience any symptoms, and therefore do not know they are infected or seek treatment. Injectable drug users, chronic hemodialysis patients, and blood transfusion recipients prior to the 1990s are at a greater risk of contracting HCV. Although HCV treatment options have improved dramatically over the past decade, HCV and HCV-related complications contribute significantly to health care costs.
The majority of HCV patients in Turkey are untreated, which is a major concern, as mortality and hepatocellular carcinoma rates could be significantly reduced, according to the study, “Economic Impact and Complications of Treated and Untreated Hepatitis C Virus Patients in Turkey,” published in Value in Health Regional Issues, Volume 7 (September/October 2015).
This study aimed to compare health care outcomes between the treated and untreated HCV patients in Turkey, which had the lowest HCV treatment rate among European countries in 2005.
Treated HCV patients incurred significantly higher health care costs. However, literature reveals that HCV therapies are cost-effective since they often halt the progression of liver disease, and this study showed a significant reduction in mortality and hepatocellular carcinoma rates among treated cirrhosis patients in Turkey.
Professor Onur Baser of MEF University in Istanbul, Turkey and Columbia University in New York says, “Although it is expensive, HCV treatment in Turkey significantly reduces mortality and hepatocellular carcinoma among treated cirrhosis patients.”