Hepatitis C: Time to test. Time to treat!

Hepatitis C: Time to test. Time to treat!

On July 27, 2018, the Alliance for Public Health (Alliance), together with 10 partner organizations in Kyiv, held a traditional all-Ukrainian awareness-raising event dedicated to the World Hepatitis Day. Those wishing to be tested for hepatitis C had the opportunity to do this in the mobile ambulances absolutely free of charge, receive a qualified consultation from doctors and social workers, and receive information materials on the transmission, testing, prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis.

300 million people in the world are suffering from viral hepatitis, among them 71 million people have viral hepatitis C!

Unfortunately, our country continues to maintain a sad leadership in the rate of increase in the number of patients with hepatitis C and B. World Health Organization (WHO) included Ukraine, the only country from European continent, in the list of 28 countries with the highest burden of viral hepatitis. According to the WHO, from 3% to 5% of the population of Ukraine has been infected with hepatitis C, in absolute terms – from 1 to 2 million people. That means that every twentieth patient who sits in the dentist’s chair or every twentieth client who has manicure done may be the carrier of this infection. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of them even do not guess about it!

“The main objectives of our action are to attract public attention to the problem of viral hepatitis and raise the level of awareness of the population about the ways of transmission, testing and treatment of viral hepatitis,” said Anna Vorotyntseva, the Head of the International Charitable Foundation “Vertical”. – Therefore, those who want can take the hepatitis C test free of charge during the event and immediately receive qualified counseling on the prevention and diagnosis of viral hepatitis and immediate action in case of an infection. After all, the problem of hepatitis concerns everyone.

“Because of the spread of the epidemic in Ukraine, nobody can feel safe, because the virus is waiting in a variety of places – beauty salons, dental offices, tattoo and piercing studious, etc. The disease has long gone beyond the marginalized groups. In order to protect themselves and their relatives from hepatitis C it is necessary: ​​first, to have information about the virus, ways of transmission of the disease, and secondly, at least once a year to pass a quick test, in order to monitor your own health. Only by joining forces – will we be able to beat the hepatitis and save thousands of lives! “- notes Eugene Sklyarenko, Project coordinator of the All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization “Convictus Ukraine”.

That is why the main objective of this year’s campaign, in addition to the importance of testing, was the need to inform the public about the expansion of the opportunities for the treatment of hepatitis C in Ukraine and the need for timely treatment. Indeed, nowadays in Ukraine, thanks to many years of work of the Alliance for Public Health, partner organizations and leading medical institutions, the treatment of viral hepatitis C has become even more affordable and effective.  Alliance was the first to begin to use the highly effective hepatitis C treatment with modern direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment even when nobody heard about them in Ukraine. The advantage of DAA products is that they are well tolerated by patients, almost do not cause side effects and provide a high treatment result.

“To date, the Alliance for Public Health has already provided free treatment for viral hepatitis for 2162 patientswith the most advanced drugs available through partner hospitals. We have established a rather high level of confirmed level of successful treatment at 95%, according to clinical research data. The percentage of retention on treatment within the Alliance’s programs is 98%. We even provided a separate quota for 40 courses for antiterrorist operation participants. Such results stimulate the state to appropriately expand treatment for the state budget and purchase medicines from producers at the lowest price that we managed to achieve four years ago, ” – Pavlo Skala, Associate director of policy and partnership, regarding the experience of the Alliance for Public Health.

Today, the procurement cost of one course of treatment (for 3 months) per person costs for the state budget  about $900. This price is, perhaps, one of the lowest in the world for the procurement of medicines from hepatitis C. For comparison, in 2015, the course of treatment for viral hepatitis C with direct antiviral drugs in Ukraine cost thousands of dollars and was almost unattainable for most of our fellow citizens due to the high cost. But, precisely thanks to the work of the Alliance and our partners, the cost of direct antiviral drugs for Ukraine has been reduced tenfold.

In 2017, the Alliance for Public Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, for the first time introduced a set of measures for the examination and treatment of viral hepatitis C for 50 HIV-infected prisoners. Today, according to the results of the research carried out among inmates s who have already undergone hepatitis C treatment, we see its effectiveness is 98%!

This year’s campaign “Hepatitis C: Time to test. Time to treat!” in Kyiv was organized by the Alliance for Public Health in partnership with the International Charitable Foundation (ICF) “Vertical”, the Kyiv City Center for Social Services for Family, Children and Youth, All-Ukrainian Charitable Organization “Convictus Ukraine”, the Kyiv City Public Health Center, ICF “Drop In Center”, Charitable Organization (CO) Club “Enei”, Charity Fund “Hope and Faith”, CO “ALLIANCE. GLOBAL”, Red Cross Society of Ukraine and ICO “Positive Women”.

It is possible to do a test for viral hepatitis in 10 minutes independently at home, by purchasing an ordinary quick test in a pharmacy network. WARNING! The positive result of a quick HCV test is not the basis for establishing a final diagnosis. It is necessary to consult a doctor!

National Hotline for Viral Hepatitis: 0-800-50-33-10 (all calls within Ukraine are free).