02/12/2015 04:54 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT

New treatment for hepatitis C to be offered in Prince Edward Island

CHARLOTTETOWN - Prince Edward Island's health minister says it will be the first province in Canada to offer a new treatment for hepatitis C.

Doug Currie says new treatments recently approved by Health Canada have a cure rate of 95 to 100 per cent for HCV genotype 1 and have minimal side effects with a shorter treatment cycle.

Currie says current medications have a cure rate of up to 70 per cent, but they have serious side effects.

He says HCV genotype 1 is the genotype carried by about 75 per cent of Islanders with hepatitis C and is the most difficult to treat.

The provincial government says it will spend $4.8 million in its new treatment program over the next three years.

Currie says the small size of the province will allow the government to closely monitor cases of hepatitis C and the treatment program's effectiveness.