Hepatitis C treatment guidelines issued

WHO has issued its first guidance for the treatment of hepatitis C, a chronic infection that affects an estimated 130 million to 150 million people and results in 350 000 to 500 000 deaths a year worldwide. An estimated 1 in 50 people is infected with hepatitis C in the WHO European Region.

The publication of the “WHO guidelines for the screening, care and treatment of persons with hepatitis C infection” coincides with the availability of more effective and safer oral hepatitis medicines, along with the promise of even more new medicines in the next few years.

Hepatitis C virus is most commonly transmitted through exposure to contaminated blood. Those at risk include people undergoing invasive medical procedures and therapeutic injections where there is poor infection control. Also at risk are those exposed to contaminated injecting and skin piercing equipment, including through injecting drug use, tattooing and body piercing.

Besides treatment, these new guidelines summarize what should be done to prevent the transmission of hepatitis C, including measures to assess the safety of medical procedures and injections in health care settings and among people who inject drugs.