Treatment advocate tactics to expand access to antiviral therapy for HIV and viral hepatitis C in low- to high-income settings: making sure no one is left behind

by Grillon C, Krishtel PR, Mellouk O, Basenko A, Freeman J, Mendão L, Andrieux-Meyer I, Morin S. Journal of the International Aids Society 2018, 21(S2):e25060. 

Summary: Worldwide, 71 million people are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which, without treatment, can lead to liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV co‐infection increases liver‐ and AIDS‐related morbidity and mortality among HIV‐positive people, despite ART. A 12‐week course of HCV direct‐acting antivirals (DAAs) usually cures HCV – regardless of HIV status. However, patents and high prices have created access barriers for people living with HCV, especially those who inject drugs, who face additional obstacles to treatment (including stigma, discrimination and other structural barriers). The HIV epidemic occurred during globalization of intellectual property rights, and highlighted the relationship between patents and the high prices that prevent access to medicines. This commentary presents tactics from the HIV experience that treatment advocates can use to expand access to DAAs. ‘Investment into the development of a medicine called “antistigmavir” may need to accompany expanded access to DAAs.’

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