Research Priorities to Achieve Universal Access to Hepatitis C Prevention, Management and Direct-Acting Antiviral Treatment Among People Who Inject Drugs
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AbstractGlobally, it is estimated that 71.1 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, including an estimated 7.5 million people who have recently injected drugs (PWID). There is an additional large, but unquantified, burden among those PWID who have ceased injecting. The incidence of HCV infection among current PWID also remains high in many settings. Morbidity and mortality due to liver disease among PWID with HCV infection continues to increase, despite the advent of well-tolerated, simple interferon-free direct-acting antiviral (DAA) HCV regimens with cure rates >95%. As a result of this important clinical breakthrough, there is potential to reverse the rising burden of advanced liver disease with increased treatment and strive for HCV elimination among PWID. Unfortunately, there are many gaps in knowledge that represent barriers to effective prevention and management of HCV among PWID. The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney and the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU) established an expert round table panel to assess current research gaps and establish future research priorities for the prevention and management of HCV among PWID. This round table consisted of a one-day workshop held on 6 September, 2016, in Oslo, Norway, prior to the International Symposium on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU 2016). International experts in drug and alcohol, infectious diseases, and hepatology were brought together to discuss the available scientific evidence, gaps in research, and develop research priorities. Topics for discussion included the epidemiology of injecting drug use, HCV, and HIV among PWID, HCV prevention, HCV testing, linkage to HCV care and treatment, DAA treatment for HCV infection, and reinfection following successful treatment. This paper highlights the outcomes of the roundtable discussion focused on future research priorities for enhancing HCV prevention, testing, linkage to care and DAA treatment for PWID as we strive for global elimination of HCV infection.
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