The new crop of highly effective hepatitis C virus (HCV) drugs will likely greatly reduce the number of people living with the virus during the coming years, but the disease’s impact will remain profound for decades to come. Publishing their findings in the journal Hepatology, researchers used a previously developed and validated mathematical model called HEP-SIM to estimate the progress of the U.S. hep C epidemic from 2001 onward.

The researchers estimated that in 2010 2.5 million people who were not incarcerated had hep C, a figure that dropped to 1.9 million in 2015 and is expected to drop to 1 million by 2020.

Between the arrival of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) on the market in 2014 and 2030, an estimated 1.8 million people will undergo treatment for hep C. Based on current trends, an estimated four to six years may be needed before a majority of those who are aware that they have hep C are treated.

Nevertheless, in 2020, an estimated 560,000 will still be unaware that they have hep C.

Between 2014 and 2050, an estimated 320,000 people will die; 157,000 will develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common form of liver cancer); and 203,000 will develop decompensated cirrhosis.

To read the study abstract, click here.