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Keywords:

  • chronic hepatitis C;
  • fibrosis;
  • Markov modelling;
  • prediction;
  • treatment

Summary.  The epidemic of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major public health issue. We conducted a comprehensive analysis to estimate future HCV-related morbidity and mortality, using a model which is the first to take into account currently available treatments. We reconstructed the incident infections per year in the past that progressed to chronic hepatitis C (CHC) in Greece. Then, the natural history of the disease was simulated in subcohorts of newly infected subjects in the presence or absence of treatment using yearly estimates of the number of treated patients obtained from national databases. Annual estimates of the incidence and prevalence of CHC by fibrosis stage, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and mortality were obtained up to 2030. The current proportion of naïve CHC patients receiving treatment in Greece is 1.2% per year. Treatment of 1.2–10% of naïve CHC patients per year would reduce the cumulative number of incident cirrhosis and HCC cases from 2002 to 2030 by 10.8–39.4% and 12.8–39.8%, respectively and decrease the number of prevalent cirrhosis and HCC cases in 2030 by approximately 17–48% compared with the number estimated under the assumption of no treatment. Approximately 17 cirrhosis cases or six HCC cases or 10 premature deaths would be prevented for every 100 treated patients. However, the prevalent cirrhotic/HCC cases because of HCV and HCV-related deaths would not plateau until 2030. Despite the introduction of effective treatment, HCV-related morbidity and mortality will likely increase during the next 20–30 years in Greece. Intensive primary prevention efforts coupled with increased access to the currently available treatments are necessary to control the chronic consequences of HCV epidemic.