UNODC supporting countries to address hepatitis C among people who inject drugs in the community and in prisons

 

20 July 2017 - Mombasa, Kenya - Country's opioid substitution therapy (Medically Assisted Therapy - MAT) provides a unique opportunity for addressing the double burden of HIV and viral hepatitis among a highly marginalized and stigmatized population.  At enrolment, every opioid-dependent client is screened for HIV, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis and pregnancy if women.

As the MAT Programme only supports screening for hepatitis, UNODC and its partners have strived to extend hepatitis C treatment for PWID through alternate resources.

In addition to assisting National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) in drafting Kenya's first national guidelines for control and treatment of viral hepatitis among PWUD, UNODC has advocated with MSF-Belgium and NASCOP to extend the HCV treatment to MAT clients. Fifty-one patients (from Malindi, Mombasa and Kwale) are now part of a pilot HCV treatment for people who inject drugs with direct acting antiviral therapy.

However, questions remain regarding how to assure optimal access and adherence to a costly medication (USD 1200 for 3-month course per person).  Hepatitis C treatment programme will only succeed if challenges including stigma and discrimination in health care services are addressed.

The new national HCV guidelines and approval of new GFATM grant improves the prospects for HCV treatment scale up through MAT in Kenya.

Hanoi, Vietnam - An estimated seven out of ten people who inject drugs in Vietnam are living with Hepatitis C (HCV).   The high cost and low availability of this life-saving treatment has resulted in no access for those who need it most.  Following the Joint advocacy efforts of UNODC, the ASEAN and Vietnam Networks of People Who Use Drugs (ANPUD and VNPUD), and other NGOs, the national social health insurance has approved the partial coverage of HCV treatment.

UNODC has also provided training courses on HCV prevention and care for community-based service providers, prison healthcare workers and prison-based peer educators.  

" We need to remove barriers to expand hepatitis B and hepatitis C prevention, testing and treatment to everyone,'' said Mr. Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director.