News: International liver associations call for simplified & more accessible hepatitis C care

In November, representatives from international liver associations called for hepatitis C testing and treatment to be simplified globally.

Spearheaded by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the Latin American Association for the Study of the Liver (ALEH) and the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL); undertaken in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI); and presented at The Liver Meeting last month in Boston, the joint statement calls for efforts to simplify testing and treatment for hepatitis C in order to make them more accessible, especially in settings where resources are limited.

In allowing for the scale-up of hepatitis C case-finding and treatment efforts, simplification could also support progress toward the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat.

According to an article on InfoHep, the associations highlighted four strategies to achieve this in a “call to action” document:

  • Simplifying diagnosis and treatment algorithms;
  • Integrating hepatitis C treatment into other disease programs, such as primary care and vertical programs (for example, for HIV or TB);
  • Devolving responsibility for hepatitis C care to the local level (“decentralization”);
  • Task-sharing with primary care providers and other health care workers.

As outlined in the InfoHep article, such simplification is possible today due to recent advances in hepatitis C care. These advances include rapid antibody screening and confirmatory viral load testing that can be completed at one clinical visit; highly effective direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) that are also well-tolerated by patients; and new DAAs that act on multiple hepatitis C virus genotypes, meaning that genotyping — a procedure that is impossible to carry out locally in many resource-constrained settings — is no longer essential in providing care.

Read the full article on InfoHep.

Read the “call to action” on the AASLD website.

Image “Soraya gets a check up at a local health clinic” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


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