End the Social Injustice of Viral Hepatitis

End the Social Injustice of Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is not just a health issue – it’s a human rights issue

Two key issues highlight the bitter social injustice of viral hepatitis - discrimination, together with stigma, and inequity. Tackling those is central to the work of the World Hepatitis Alliance to ensure the 325 million people living with viral hepatitis receive the best care. 

Despite the revolution in the hepatitis C therapeutic field which brought us a cure, and the fact that an effective vaccine and treatment for hepatitis B exist, currently less than 1% living with this disease are receiving treatment. Without those life-saving interventions, people will continue to develop liver cancer and die, people will continue being discriminated against and will continue to be left behind.

As the voice of the 325 million people affected by viral hepatitis, we have an ambitious strategy to end the social injustice of viral hepatitis. You can download our 2017-2018 Strategic Plan here.

STOP THE STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION

Most people living with viral hepatitis are marginalised in one way or another with only one in five people feeling comfortable to disclose their status. Although invisible, stigma is a harsh reality and for some, the stigma of viral hepatitis can be more harmful than the disease itself.

As part of our efforts to tackle stigma and discrimination, we work to educate people and create awareness of the disease. We do this by organising campaigns, developing materials and profiling stories of people living with or working in the field of viral hepatitis. 

We also ensure this issue is given prominence at the World Hepatitis Summit, where policy makers, civil society and other key stakeholders convene to push the viral hepatitis agenda forward, and that stigma is a focus in our capacity/capability building efforts. 

ADVANCING EQUITY

Health equity means that every person has the opportunity to achieve optimal health and safety. Unfortunately, for many people affected by viral hepatitis, such as people who inject drugs, indigenous peoples, prisoners, men who have sex with men and migrants, they are often marginalised and have poor access to healthcare.

The net result of this injustice is that, even though we can cure hepatitis C and we can completely suppress hepatitis B, 99% of those living with chronic hepatitis B or C are not receiving treatment. At WHA, combatting this issue is our priority. One of the keys ways we advance equity is by shaping knowledge and initiating "Pro-Access" activities. Find out more about the "Access" landscape for viral hepatitis here.

What does WHA do?

  • Unite organisations across the world to call on governments and pharmaceutical companies to address the access issue. For example, in November 2015, we launched an open letter calling for immediate action to vastly improve access to life-saving drugs for viral hepatitis. Signed by over 120 organisations from 55 countries, the letter makes specific requests to national governments and pharmaceutical companies, including addressing the stigma that prevents people from getting tested, improving access to diagnostics and ensuring drugs are affordable in all countries.
  • Form partnerships with organisations who work on this issue to maximise efforts in this area, such as the Medicines Patent Pool.
  • Work with WHO to develop guidelines around testing, care and treatment of viral hepatitis.  
  • Build knowledge amongst our members and civil society groups of a rapidly changing landscape through capability building tools like webinars and surveys 

"Access" to Viral Hepatitis - Resource Hub

Improving access to diagnostics and medicines will be essential to achieving the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030. Currently 89% of those living with viral hepatitis are unaware they have the disease and of those that are aware less than 1% access treatment. If we are to reach the goal of 90% of people being aware of their illness and 80% of people treated by 2030, as set out in the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, much needs to be done.

Civil society have a key role to play in this through advocating for improved access but in order to ensure that any advocacy efforts are effective and sustainable it is important to first understand the issues in this area. Click this link to access a resource hub which brings together a wide range of resources specifically on access to medicines and diagnostics to help build knowledge in this area.

World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis disproportionately affects Indigenous populations, yet the issue is entirely neglected. Following the success of the inaugural World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis in Alice Springs, Australia in 2014, we are delighted to announce that the second conference will take place in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. The event will be held 8-9 August to coincide with International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It will bring together Indigenous peoples, policy makers and experts in the field to profile and further the conversation on viral hepatitis in Indigenous communities, and crucially give Indigenous peoples a voice.

For more information and to regsiter, visit the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis website.

KNOWLEDGE FOR CHANGE

Knowledge for Change is a webinar series aimed at educating patients and patient representatives about relevant topics in the area of viral hepatitis. So far, the topics addressed include access to diagnostics, medicines and generics. These webinars feature experts in the field and provide great insights into these complex topics. To watch our webinars, click here.

COUNTRY RESPONSE PROFILE ON VIRAL HEPATITIS B AND C (2016 - 2017)

Following the adoption of  the Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy, we are working with WHO to assess governments’ response to the epidemic through a Member State comprehensive survey. WHO will publish the results in a report entitled “Country Response Profile on viral hepatitis B and C (2016 - 2017)”, which will be launched in 2017. In parallel to this, we are conducting our own civil society survey to gauge what is REALLY happening on the ground from the perspective of our NGO members.

The areas of focus for our civil society survey are:

  • the level of our members’ engagement in their government’s response to viral hepatitis
  • the level of stigma and discrimination affecting people living with viral hepatitis in their country and what their government is doing about it
  • the level of access to diagnostics and treatment

If you are a WHA member and haven't completed the survery, click here.

Findings will also be released in 2017.