It is World Hepatitis Day, and it is time to bring hepatitis C virus (HCV) out of the shadows. Advances in treatment mean HCV can now often be cured, especially if it is caught early. Four out of 5 of the 71 million people living with HCV don’t even know they have the disease. The global health community is banding together to find these people and link them to care. For this, we need better tests coupled with better strategies for reaching key populations in low- and middle-income countries.
Our HEAD-Start project, supported by Unitaid, is focused on harnessing the power of integrating testing and service delivery for HCV within existing programmes–such as those for HIV–and decentralizing testing into harm reduction services to get closer to patients.
We are making progress: today we announced a number of awards to support feasibility studies to advance new point-of-care tools, together with awards for country-specific demand creation and advocacy activities.
Earlier this week, at the AIDS2018 conference in Amsterdam, we announced a partnership with DNDi, in collaboration with the Malaysia Ministry of Heath, to support the world-leading HCV public health efforts in Malaysia with a project to simplify and decentralise screening and treatment.
In Amsterdam, we also hosted a symposium on Tackling co-infection with collaboration, bringing together patient, developer, implementer, policy and donor voices. Dr Eric Goosby chaired the session, sharing his view that we are now truly in a position to bring the long-discussed vision of integration to life and transform patient experiences.
AIDS2018 saw the release of exciting news, including Cepheid’s price reduction for their Xpert® HIV, HCV and HPV tests. A market penetration analysis just published by Gates Open Research with authors from FIND highlighted that GeneXpert is currently inadequately exploited as a multi-disease technology. WHO’s HIV team also launched a new HIV testing services app for guidelines, information and data.
Today, the World Hepatitis Alliance is calling on the global health community to Find the Missing Millions and meet the WHO targets to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. We join them in raising awareness about the pivotal role of diagnostics to achieve this mission.