Every year, the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and associated complications claim 350,000 lives. 185 million people worldwide are now thought to be infected. The virus combines with HIV to deadly effect.
Yet this is a problem that largely goes unaddressed. Most of the burden of disease occurs in developing countries. And multiple barriers—including the price of diagnostics, the lack of laboratory capacity, and the cost and toxicity of treatment—are used to justify why the epidemic goes ignored.
Yet HCV is curable and promisingly, the standard of care is rapidly changing. The unprecedented progresses in HCV drug development means effective, safe, and tolerable oral regimens will soon be available. Lab technologies are increasingly simplified, opening new prospects for decentralised care, and for reaching more people with diagnosis and treatment, even in resource-poor settings.
The time to seize this historic opportunity is upon us. In September 2012, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Open Society Foundations, and Treatment Action Group joined forces with activists, researchers, and UN and government representatives to identify priority issues, share information, and develop strategies to overcome the barriers that prevent access to HCV treatment in developing countries, both today and in the future.
This short video highlights their concerns, and their hopes.