Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2017
Background: In Europe, people who inject drugs (PWID) represent the majority of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, but are often excluded from being treated. The aim of this study was to report on current national HCV strategies, action plans and guidelines in European countries that include HCV treatment for the general population and PWID, compared to 2013 data. New data on access to direct acting antivirals (DAAs) was also collected.
Methods: In 2016, 38 non-governmental organisations and public health/university institutions aligned with PWID in 33 European countries were invited to complete a 16-item on line survey about current national HCV treatment policies and guidelines. Results, apart from new questions on access to DAAs, were compared to the results of a similar study conducted in 2013.
Results: The response rate was 100%. 14 study countries (41%) reported on having a national HCV strategy and/or a national action plan covering HCV treatment; 12 of these (86%) include measures to address PWID. Respondents reported that 29 countries (85%) have national HCV clinical treatment guidelines, with PWID included in 23 of them (79%). Improvements were observed since 2013, as respondents reported an additional 7 countries have national strategies, an additional 6 countries have action plans and an additional 6 countries have HCV clinical treatment guidelines. PWID were reportedly addressed in 4 of the new national strategies, in 4 of the new action plans, and in 1 of the new clinical treatment guidelines adopted by study countries. DAAs were reportedly available in 91% of the study countries, with restrictions in 65% of them.
Conclusion: Respondents reported that fewer than half of European countries have a national HCV strategy and/or action plan, with even fewer including PWID. Strategic action is needed to increase access to HCV treatment among PWID.