Hepatitis C Consultative Council announces national hepatitis C database to learn more about illness caused by virus

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The Consultative Council on Hepatitis C today (Friday) announced the establishment of a national database to learn more about hepatitis C and the illness it can cause. The database will collect and collate information on people who were infected with hepatitis C through the administration of blood and blood products within the State, including those people who are virus or antibody positive.

The database was funded by the Department of Health and Children on the recommendation of the Consultative Council on Hepatitis C, which was established by the Minister for Health in 1996. It will be based at the National Disease Surveillance Centre. Dr Elizabeth Kenny, Chair of the Consultative Council on Hepatitis C, welcomed the launch of the database and thanked the National Disease Surveillance Centre for its efforts in getting the project off the ground.

It will be overseen by a steering committee, reporting to the Consultative Council on Hepatitis C, comprising representatives from patient support groups, consultant hepatologists, service providers and the Department of Health and Children.

Commenting on the database, NDSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Lelia Thornton said that about 1,600 people have been infected with hepatitis C through the administration of blood and blood products in Ireland.

"These include recipients of anti-D immune globulin and blood transfusion, people with haemophilia and those who received treatment for renal disease.

"Consultant hepatologists are asking patients to consent to participation in the database. A unique opportunity now exists for internationally significant research to follow the natural history of infection in this group of people and to evaluate the impact of various factors on the progression of the disease. 

"Doctors are still learning about hepatitis C related illness as the virus that causes hepatitis C was only identified relatively recently. The database will help us learn more about the disease caused by the virus. Medical information on people who were infected with hepatitis C can also be used to help in planning future services for those living with the virus.

"The database will allow for the evaluation of treatment and the monitoring of uptake of services, as well as serving as a resource for future research into hepatitis C," she said.

Participation in the Hepatitis C Database is voluntary and it will not contain people's names or addresses.