World Hepatitis Day 2022

On World Hepatitis Day this year, WHO is calling for hepatitis care to be brought closer to communities, and the World Hepatitis Alliance reminds us that hepatitis can’t wait. With one person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness, indeed we can’t wait for people to get tested.

Urgently enabling hepatitis testing “where the patients are” was at the heart of our 3-year HEAD-Start project, which demonstrated the immense value of tackling hepatitis C to both patients and health systems. Building on that experience, we are continuing our efforts to accelerate active case finding and expedite links to treatment and care.

We are working to improve community-level access to testing in Manipur, India, where there is a high prevalence of drug use that provides a barrier to care for stigmatized communities. In this video, we talked to our partners at CoNE, as well as a beneficiary of the project, to understand the impact that integrated test-and-treat programmes can have on real lives.

Stigmatized and vulnerable individuals at highest risk for hepatitis are disproportionately represented in the prison system in India, making these institutions a key target for so-called “micro-elimination” programmes. We developed a model to screen, confirm and create links to hepatitis C treatment in nine prisons in Punjab, nine prisons in Haryana, and one model jail in Chandigarh. Hear about the impact of this project from Sh. Jaghit Singh, the Inspector General of prisons in Haryana.

Projects such as these rely on quality diagnostics that can be administered at the point of care – rapid tests or self-tests that provide actionable information quickly and conveniently. Together with partners we have just published an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of a core antigen-based rapid diagnostic test for hepatitis C, finding that such a test could improve the diagnosis rate and result in cost savings.

If you’d like to know more about the core antigen rapid test and its potential for self-testing, and you’ll be at the AIDS 2022 meeting in Montreal, my colleague Sonjelle Shilton, FIND deputy director of operational and implementation research, will be speaking tomorrow at a satellite session on self-testing to enhance HIV, hepatitis C and COVID-19 diagnosis, and integrated, differentiated service delivery.

Today there are 354 million people globally living with a hepatitis B or C infection. If we are to meet the WHO goals of reducing new hepatitis infections and deaths by 2030, hepatitis testing can’t wait.