Hepatitis C: Policy Recommendations for Addressing a Growing Epidemic
Across the world, an estimated 71 million people are living with the hepatitis
C virus. If left untreated, hepatitis C infection can cause chronic and
debilitating liver disease, including fibrosis, cirrhosis, and cancer. In 2015,
hepatitis C infection contributed to 30% of viral hepatitis-related deaths,
amounting to ~400,000 lives lost. Recognizing the seriousness of this
public health problem, governments, through the World Health Assembly,
have adopted the global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis, which
aims to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.
Of the 36.7 million people living with HIV (PLHIV), the prevalence of those
with evidence of prior hepatitis C infection is 6.2%. Hepatitis C infection
rates have been especially high among people who inject drugs (PWID)
who are HIV positive, with upwards of 80% of this population in some surveys
having both infections. Co-infection is an urgent public health issue
that could jeopardize the progress made in addressing the HIV epidemic.
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