New guidelines for treating hepatitis C infections came out from the World Health Organization. These replace and update WHO’s 2016 recommendations. Certainly a lot has changed in just the past three years – all of it comes as great news for anyone carrying the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
The key take-away from these comprehensive new guidelines (all 108 pages of them!) center on one game-changing strong recommendation:
- Hepatitis C treatment should be offered to all people age 12+ (except pregnant women) with chronic hepatitis C infection, regardless of their disease stage.
In other words, treatment should not be delayed until the disease causes more serious health consequences. Treat HCV early and treat everyone.
A second big change to HCV recommendations relates to selecting a treatment:
- Direct-acting antivirals, which work on all six major genotypes of HCV, should be used.
Since these types of medications effectively treat all types of HCV, it is no longer necessary to spend time and money on genotyping the infection (which previously was used to select the best treatment). The new course of action sums up as: get tested and get treated with one of the new direct-acting antivirals that work on all major forms of HCV.
WHO set a goal to eliminate viral hepatitis by the year 2030. It’s a tall order, but one that would save millions of lives. To achieve this goal, 90% of people who are infected need to get diagnosed with this disease (you can’t treat it if you don’t know you have it!) and 80% of people with a diagnosis need to be treated. So let’s get to it!
World Health Organization. Guidelines for the Care and Treatment of Persons Diagnosed with Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection. July 2018. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/273174/9789241550345-eng.pdf?ua=1