Through Strategic Action, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Can Move the U.S. Toward Elimination of Hepatitis C among People with HIV

Contact: Johan Marulanda / johan.marulanda@georgetown.edu 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON | 1 in 4 people living with HIV will become infected with Hepatitis C (HCV) during their lifetime. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the federal program that fills in gaps in care for uninsured and underinsured people with HIV to create a nationwide system of care has a major role to play in helping to eliminate HCV among people living with HIV, explain health policy experts in the new issue brief, Eliminating Hepatitis C among People Living with HIV in the United States: Leveraging the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to Move Us Forward.

HCV is the most prevalent bloodborne infection in the United States, with 2.4 million American living with the disease leading to 18,000 deaths in 2016. About one in every twenty people with HIV receiving regular medical care has an active HCV infection. HIV treatment advances are leading to major improvements in health for people with HIV, but co-occurring HCV infection can undermine this progress. People with HIV and HCV have worse health outcomes than people who only have HCV; they can experience accelerated progression of liver disease and may have difficulty processing HIV antiretrovirals.

“The Ryan White Program has a central role to play in providing the leadership needed to focus the health system and the HIV community on charting a deliberate path to eliminating HCV among people with HIV in the United States,” highlight the authors.

In the issue brief, Sonia Canzater and Jeffrey S. Crowley of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, explain how the path to systematically eliminating HCV can be achieved. Informed by a 2018 consultation with people with HIV and HCV, medical and non-medical providers, and federal and state policy and program staff, the policy researchers identify four priority actions:

  1. Comprehensive efforts to overcome financial, clinical, and other barriers to treatment
  2. Better metrics for tracking progress toward elimination
  3. Increased emphasis on re-screening of key populations
  4. Strengthened planning and commitment to HCV elimination in states, communities, and clinics

These recommendations work in tandem with actions the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration are taking to respond to HCV among people living with HIV. This project is supported by a grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc. Gilead Sciences, Inc. has had no input into the development of or content of this policy brief.

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center is the premier center for health law, scholarship, and policy. Its mission is to contribute to a more powerful and deeper understanding of the multiple ways in which law can be used to improve the public’s health, using objective evidence as a measure. The O’Neill Institute seeks to advance scholarship, science, research, and teaching that will encourage key decision-makers in the public, private, and civil society to employ the law as a positive tool for enabling more people in the United States and throughout the world to lead healthier lives.

Press Release Infectious Diseases Hepatitis C