World Hepatitis Day 28th July 2020

The theme of World Hepatitis Day this year is “Find the Missing Millions”. It refers to the estimated 290 million people living with viral hepatitis unaware. It highlights the need to find the undiagnosed and link them to care so that suffering can be reduced and lives saved.

There is no doubt that Hepatitis represents a serious problem to sufferers and their families. But there is good news in that its treatment has improved so dramatically in recent years.

This time last year we referred to;

“The new antiviral drugs such as Sofusbivir and combination drugs like Harvoni have changed things completely as they have a better than 90% success rate with no significant side effects for most people; indeed, one manufacturer AbVie claims a 99% success rate.  Although there has been research[1] to suggest that the long-term effects are unproven most Hepatologists are clear that this is huge shift in treatment.  Graham Foster, Professor of Hepatology at Queen Mary’s commented, “The real story is one of remarkable, if surprising, success over just a decade, transforming an unpleasant and sometimes fatal disease into one that is readily cured.”[2]

It is encouraging to report that improvements in treatment continue to evolve. The use of non invasive Fibroscans, can test the elasticity or stiffness of the liver, and check for signs of anything significant such as  cirrhosis. Fibroscans are quick, taking 5-7 minutes. The results are instantaneous, so treatment can be started quickly if required.

From an underwriting perspective the use of fibroscans can help assess the risk. Sue Clark, specialist underwriter at Pulse says “the use of Fibroscans and the general development of increasingly effective therapies, have improved chances of Life Assurance being available. We cannot offer cover in all the cases that come to us but we are able to do so in increased numbers”.