Over the last decade, HIV drug prices have dropped dramatically, and access to antiretroviral therapy has significantly increased. It is time to apply the lessons from HIV/AIDS to hepatitis C virus (HCV). An estimated 170 million people have chronic hepatitis C. At least 350,000 of them die from it each year although it is curable. Access to prevention tools, diagnostics, and treatment remains extremely limited, particularly for people who inject drugs, a group disproportionately affected by HCV. Few people in the Global South have access, even those living with HIV/AIDS.
Therefore, on the occasion of the XIX International Aids Conference in Washington, DC, USA, and the eve of World Hepatitis Day, the undersigned grassroots civil society groups and non-governmental organizations have formed an international coalition working towards universal access to HCV voluntary testing and treatment.
We call upon :
- The pharmaceutical companies – particularly Roche & Merck – to drastically reduce the price of diagnostics and treatment regimens for the estimated 170 million individuals suffering from chronic hepatitis C, particularly those with HIV co-infection.
- Political leaders to mobilize the adequate resources needed now and in the future—in anticipation of new HCV drugs— to diagnose, monitor and treat high-prevalence populations, such as people living with HIV/AIDS and people who inject drugs
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant United Nations (UN) agencies to develop treatment guidelines for HCV treatment for HIV/HCV co-infected people and HCV mono-infected persons in low and middle income countries and to develop a prequalification process for bio-similars that facilitates access to pegylated interferon
- Researchers to gather and provide evidence on feasibility and effectiveness of treatment in low and middle income countries, with a focus on disproportionately affected populations, particularly people who inject drugs. International donors to support community mobilization and treatment preparedness and literacy, as well as treatment cost, which are crucial for access to treatment.