MIND THE GAP : HCV Policies versus Community Experiences

The revolution of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs)

In 2016, WHO Member States adopted a global strategy to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030. This resolution followed shortly after the arrival of medicines that have revolutionized hepatitis C (HCV) treatment. Known as direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), these medicines offered people living with hepatitis C (PLHCV) a safe, highly-effective cure. To the public health community, DAAs presented an unprecedented opportunity: a means to eliminate an infectious disease through a medicine.

Strong policies are needed to achieve HCV elimination

Yet while the goal of elimination can appear simple enough on paper, the design and implementation of programs to achieve it require further elaboration of country-level strategies and corresponding budgets. In turn, the translation of strong policies to successful practice at ground-level will prove the key catalyst to elimination.

A study to explore the gap between policy commitments and their implementation

The exploration of such a gap – between policy commitments on paper and the reality of their implementation in practice – represented the focus of a study conducted by Coalition PLUS and its partners. Through over 40 hours of structured focus group discussions with 238 at-risk individuals [primarily people who inject drugs (PWID) and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV)] and PLHCV, the survey provided communities an opportunity to voice their perspectives and experiences. To further strengthen ground-level insights into the HCV response, 51 healthcare workers providing HCV services were also interviewed.

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