World Hepatitis Alliance and InTec partner to Find the Missing Millions

28 Jul 2018 Bridie Taylor

Global diagnostic manufacturer donates 25,000 hepatitis C tests on World Hepatitis Day

[World Hepatitis Alliance, London, 28 July 2018] On World Hepatitis Day, the World Hepatitis Alliance and InTec Products, an infectious disease diagnostics manufacturer, have partnered to distribute 25,000 point-of-care rapid tests for viral hepatitis C (HCV) to five World Hepatitis Alliance member organisations around the world.

“Globally, more than 290 million people living with viral hepatitis are unaware – that’s 9 out of 10 people living with a cancer-causing disease without knowing. Unless there is a massive scale-up in screening, diagnosis and linkage to care, more people will become infected and lives will continue to be lost.” said Michael Ninburg, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance.

As part of the World Hepatitis Alliance’s “Find the Missing Millions” programme, InTec and the World Hepatitis Alliance have partnered on a pilot project to provide HCV tests to WHA members in the UK, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine in an effort to increase the scope of their screening campaigns and so help to find the “missing millions”.

The Hepatitis C Trust (HCT) in the UK received 6,000 tests which will be used to progress NHS England’s commitment to eliminating HCV in the UK by 2025. The HCT, which works in partnership with all 22 lead providers of HCV treatment in the UK, will implement screening throughout England and will ensure that every antibody positive person diagnosed will have immediate access to a confirmatory PCR test. In addition, PCR+ patients will be supported into treatment provider hubs. As part of their commitment to find the missing millions, tests will not be conducted unless a pathway exists to HCV treatment.

In Russia, 4,000 tests were provided to national NGO, United Against Hepatitis. The organisation will work with the charitable fund Humanitarian Action to test 4,000 people in St. Petersburg using three mobile points. One mobile point will be used for testing among drug users, one for testing among sex workers and the third one will be used for testing among the general population. Over a five month period, people who test antibody positive will be referred to the S.P. Botkin Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital and the Infectious Diseases and AIDS Center. Peer counsellors will be on hand to provide before and after counselling on the routes of transmission of viral hepatitis, on the associated risks and on the prevention of reinfection.

Spark of Hope in the Ukraine aims to test up to 2,000 people over a five month period. They will do this by organising rapid testing in one of four hospital districts of Ternopil. Ternopil is one of the most deprived regions in the Ukraine and because of the high-cost of diagnostics and low awareness, only 693 people have been diagnosed with HCV out of a population of one million people.

In Mexico, two WHA members, Fundación Mexicana para la Salud Hepática (FundHepa) and Fundacion Hepatos Aion, AC received 6,500 tests each. FundHepa aims to use their tests to implement a large-scale university screening campaign over a three month period. This campaign will build on a successful hepatitis B vaccination drive they performed in 2002. Fundacion Hepatos Aion, AC will partner with support groups in five cities to implement screening programmes for at-risk populations.  

“We are excited to partner with InTec and commend their actions to find the missing millions. We urge more companies and diagnostic manufacturers to follow suit.” Mr Ninburg added.

Countries were selected based on where the InTec HCV point-of-care test is registered, where InTec has distribution networks and the prevalence of HCV within the country. World Hepatitis Alliance organisations within these countries were invited to participate and chosen based on their capacity to provide point-of-care testing by healthcare professionals and to ensure linkage to care.

The pilot project will be evaluated in the first quarter of 2019. If you are interested in finding out more about the Find the Missing Millions programme, click here.