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HEPATITIS/HIV PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Hepatitis C-related liver disease is a leading cause of death among people living with HIV in the United States and Europe. Globally, 2.3 million people of the 36.7 million living with HIV are coinfected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), while over 71 million have chronic HCV alone. Of those, 1.3 million are people who inject drugs. HIV worsens HCV disease progression and outcomes. Approximately, 400,000 people die each year, commonly from HCV that has progressed to liver disease and liver cancer.

TAG's Hepatitis C Virus Project reviews the state of research on HCV monoinfection and coinfection. It advocates for better clinical trial designs, and access to curative treatment for all affected communities, and it continually monitors standards of care for people with HCV monoinfection and coinfection. The project works in collaboration with the HCV and HIV communities, scientists, government, and drug companies to make life-saving information and curative hepatitis treatments universally available. Since the introduction of all-oral, short-course direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) in 2014, TAG has collaborated with partners globally to expedite universal, affordable access to these treatments.

The Hepatitis C Project has been at the forefront of a global HCV treatment access education and advocacy movement, and it's been instrumental in building a global coalition of activists in low- and middle-income countries who are advocating for access to these cures and for care for all people with HCV. However, due to disease progression, sobriety, and adherence restrictions imposed by governments and payers; pricing barriers, limited voluntary licensing by originator companies; and delays in drug registration; most countries can't afford to initiate treatment programs with DAAs. Without access to affordable, high-quality generic DAAs, global targets to reduce HCV incidence and mortality will be unattainable. Most people in need of HCV treatment will remain untreated—and the epidemic will continue to spread. TAG’s treatment activism shares campaign strategies and advocacy tools with partners domestically and in low- and middle-income country settings.

Community education, organizing, and empowerment are a prerequisite for successful and sustainable advocacy. TAG participates in community consultations and advocates for people who are most at risk and most under-served to be involved in HCV planning and policy-making processes. Recent campaigns put harm reduction approaches as central to curbing the HCV epidemic, and these efforts include supporting the establishment of supervised injection facilities and safe consumption spaces. With hepatitis C, political will and resource mobilization are needed at the highest levels—including United Nations (UN) agencies – such as the World Health Organization (WHO) – and pressure must be kept on originator and generic companies to achieve price reductions and remove other access barriers. 

The Project's objectives are:

  • Advocate for central role for people who use drugs in national elimination strategies to achieve WHO goals by 2030;
  • Promote HCV treatment and care in under-served settings, including prison and detention centers;
  • Ensure community members/advocates from key populations (people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, sex workers, prisoners) have platform for meaningful participation in high-level meetings and in development of treatment guidelines; and
  • Provide technical assistance to those working to remove barriers to diagnosis and treatment and guide discussions on research and development, innovation, drug pricing, and other access issues in diverse forums.