Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2019
Background: Of the estimated 71 million people living with the chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV),
only an estimated 20% are aware of their status and less than 4 million people have been
treated with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). New infections outpace annual cures. Despite the
growing availability of generics, pangenotypic treatment options, and price reductions due to
market competition and payer negotiations, expensive diagnostics have presented obstacles to
people knowing their serostatus. Resources for people who use drugs, community leaders living
with HIV/HCV, treatment advocates, patients, and medical providers are essential for
understanding the latest HCV treatments and diagnostics to ensure the full potential of scientific
advances are actualized for those who need them most.
Methods: In-country workshops in Georgia and Malaysia translated and adapted highly
technical research on diagnostics with impacted communities, particularly people who use
drugs, people coinfected with HIV/HCV, and men who have sex with men, to put research
related to diagnostics, optimal treatment, and country-specific policies into action. Crowdsourced data from 50 countries captured by the mapCrowd and hepCoalition platforms
highlighted the availability and access barriers to diagnostics for community leaders to reflect in
their national elimination advocacy work.
Results: We expanded a publicly accessible, crowd-sourced database to provide country
comparative data on diagnostics availability, pricing, harm reduction coverage and policies.
Using this data, community leaders developed strategies, tactics, and recommendations for
overcoming diagnostics barriers that were integrated into a training curriculum for treatment
advocates. Community recommendations informed campaigns that center drug user health,
drug decriminalization, and harm reduction in HIV/HCV elimination strategies.
Conclusion: Developing treatment advocates’ capacity and leadership skills is required to
mobilize HIV/HCV impacted communities, generate demand for simplified diagnostics, link
people to screening, testing, treatment, and care services, and to inform comprehensive
national elimination planning and resource allocation.
Disclosure of Interest Statement: No pharmaceutical grants were received in the development
of this research