Author(s): Lazarus JV, Shete PB, Eramova I, Merkinaite S, Matic S, Lazarus JV, Shete PB, Eramova I, Merkinaite S, Matic S
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Abstract ISSUES: HIV/hepatitis coinfection in Europe; WHO European clinical protocols on the management of people coinfected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B or C (HBV or HCV); stakeholder recommendations for better HCV services. INTRODUCTION: The increasing availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy throughout Europe and central Asia has changed comorbidity and mortality patterns among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) as liver disease has increasingly replaced AIDS as the cause of death in PLWHA in western European countries. The average prevalence of HCV among PLWHA is 40 per cent, and much higher in countries where the HIV epidemic is driven by injecting drug use. Access to hepatitis treatment for PLWHA and IDUs is still very limited in Europe due to a lack of clear clinical management guidelines for HIV/hepatitis coinfections, high costs and a national failure to recognise hepatitis as a critical health issue. DESCRIPTION: In October 2006, the WHO Regional Office for Europe issued protocols for the clinical management of HIV/HCV and HIV/HBV coinfections. They include diagnostic algorithms adjusted for resource availability, and guidelines for the management of patients who do not yet need treatment, those who need only hepatitis or only HIV/AIDS treatment, and those who need both. Though the protocols should provide practical guidelines for physicians and assist in the development of national treatment standards, there is still a need for targeted prevention, treatment and care interventions. To expand access to hepatitis prevention and treatment, public awareness needs to be raised and national political leaders need to address hepatitis as a public health issue. Effective public health measures include price reductions for anti-hepatitis drugs; targeted testing, counselling and prevention activities; increased access to hepatitis B and C treatment and to HBV vaccination for the populations most at risk.
This article was published in Int J Drug Policy
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research