“To delay further is unethical and undermines public health,” said Jason Grebely, of the Kirby Institute of Australia’s University of New South Wales, in a press release from the meeting.
The condition impacts as many as 100 million people worldwide, astronomically increases patients’ risks for cirrhosis and liver cancer, and kills almost three-quarters of a million people annually. The vast majority of new cases, at least in high-income nations, are among intravenous drug users.
The meeting was hosted by the International Network for Hepatitis C in Substance Users (INHSU), and the group points to economic and pseudo-scientific barriers that keep drug-using hepatitis sufferers from receiving new, effective treatments, including an assumption that illicit drug use reduced the efficacy of certain medications. The group emphasized last year’s C-EDGE CO-STAR Clinical Trial, which found no negative impact on therapy, and that reinfection rates among users were as low as 4%.
As new treatments have proven their effectiveness, organizations and countries have created audacious goals for the total eradication of the condition. The World Health Organization aspires to see hepatitis B and C eliminated as a “global health threat” by 2030, with 80% overall diagnosis and 65% treatment. Only a minority of global HCV cases are currently believed to be diagnosed.