Reaching the World Health Organization (WHO) targets of diagnosing 90 percent and treating 80 percent of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) cases by 2030 would be highly cost-effectivein the United States. If such an effort were scaled up to reach the targets by 2025, this would actually save money.

Currently, approximately 35 percent of the U.S. HBV population is diagnosed.

Publishing their findings in Health Affairs, researchers analyzed the economic and public health impact of hitting WHO’s 2030 targets for HBV in the United States. Achieving this task, they concluded, would require screening about 14.5 million adults in at-risk populations, resulting in 870,000 new diagnoses of the virus.

Such a push would yield an additional 16.5 million additional quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), a composite measure of additional years lived and improved health quality. Generally, in the United States, if an intervention costs less than $100,000 per additional QALY gained, it is considered cost-effective.

Hitting the 2030 WHO HBV diagnosis and treatment targets would be highly cost-effective at $103 per additional QALY. The effort would also reduce liver-related deaths by 37 percent, cases of compensated cirrhosis (the less severe form of the advanced liver disease) by 24 percent, cases of decompensated cirrhosis (the more severe form of the advanced liver disease) by 51 percent and liver cancer by 35 percent.

If the cost to treat HBV were no more than $114 per month, the cost per additional QALY would drop below zero, making the diagnosis and treatment scale-up save money in the long run.

If the United States hit the WHO diagnosis and treatment targets by 2025, this would save money and cut liver-related deaths by 47 percent.

To read a press release about the study, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.