The availability of new highly effective treatments has brought the World Health Organization (WHO) goals for the global elimination of hepatitis C within reach, but much more is required, according to Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Professor Margaret Hellard AM.
Writing in a Lancet Seminar on Hepatitis C, Professor Hellard and her co-authors outline the priorities and non-negotiables for elimination, including:
- Increased diagnosis and linkage to care
- Universal access to affordable diagnostics and therapies
- Identifying and decriminalising key populations including people who inject drugs (PWID), and men who have sex with men
- Combining treatment with expansion of PWID harm reduction services to break the cycle of infection and reinfection
- Upscaling blood safety programs
- Ongoing research into antiviral formulations and vaccine development, and
- Focused public health programs and innovative financing
“Achieving WHO 2030 elimination goals is possible, but it will require political will to recognise viral hepatitis as a health priority, set national elimination targets, develop costed national viral hepatitis plans with dedicated funding, and ensure universal access to therapy,” the authors write.
In 2016, WHO adopted a global strategy to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030, including a 90 percent reduction in cases of hepatitis B and C, and a 65 percent reduction in mortality.
Persistent infection with hepatitis C virus is a leading cause of chronic liver disease, resulting in 475,000 deaths in 2015.
The Lancet Seminars are clinically focused cutting-edge reviews of medical topics. They provide up to date and balanced discussion of any current controversies.