The considerable and increasing burden of HCV across Europe is rarely reflected in awareness or attention to the issue. However, this is about to change. Highly effective new treatments are being introduced and there is a growing recognition that truly inclusive testing and treatment policies need to be established now.
According to behavioural research carried so far among drug users, around 75% of the tested active drug users who inject drugs are HCV positive in Republic of Macedonia. Despite knowing this fact, active drug users do not have access to treatment of Hepatitis C, since there is a precondition that they have to fulfill - they have to have abstained from drugs for at least 12 months and/or to be enrolled at some of the drug dependence treatment programs. As a main reason for the existence of this precondition, health professionals point out the risk of possible reinfection, which would also mean wasted resources and unnecessary spendings.
This question caused heated discussion and opposed positions among participants on the second day of the conference ““Availability of Hepatitis C treatment to drug users in the Republic of Macedonia – good practices and challenges”. For more information, watch the related video.
On September 9th, 2014 in New York City the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a new, groundbreaking report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work.
Members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy use this report to call for ending policies for misdemeanor and criminal prosecution of people who use drugs i.e. people who possess drugs for personal use, and they reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches.
On 28 August, millions of people around the world took part in this year's campaign for the World Hepatitis Day which was held under the motto "Hepatitis: Think Again", in order to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and urge actions of governments and institutions responsible for improving access to treatment and prevention programs for Hepatitis C.
Although the burden of diseases caused by hepatitis viruses grows, the problem remains ignored in broader terms or unknown to most of the policy makers, health professionals and the wider public.
HCV continues to affects hundreds of people in the world and is considered a serious public health problem! According to the World Health Organization, about 150 million worldwide live with chronic infection of hepatitis C virus, and each year worldwide more than 350 000 people die from the diseases caused by this virus.
Most affected by the virus are people who inject drugs. Therefore, providing treatment for them should be a priority, both for governments and health professionals.
ACCESS TO TREATMENT FOR ALL WHO NEED IT!