In many cases, a hepatitis c viral infection produces few symptoms. However, after 20-30 years the disease can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which may be accompanied by liver failure or the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Thanks to the development of new antiviral therapy, the disease can now be cured quickly (success rate >95%), with only per oral medication that no longer needs to be injected for 8-16 weeks. Moreover, the treatment has little to no side effects compared to placebo. A lot of people have been healed in Belgium in the last three years.
The WHO therefore has the objective to eliminate the disease from the world by 2030 by:
- 90% reduction in the incidence of new infections
- 65% reduction in hepatitis C mortality
That is why it is important to strive for:
- increase in the number of diagnoses
- increase the number of people who can be treated and be followed if necessary
- increase in the number of treatments
The groups most in need of support are the most vulnerable groups such as people who have ever used drugs intravenously, migrants and HIV-infected men who have sex with men. They have a high risk of infection, though are often not in follow-up in a hospital due to many possible barriers (stigma, marginalization, money problems, etc.).
The aim of the Belgian Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (BNHSU) is to collect and disseminate the scientific knowledge about the care of hepatitis C among drug users to all care providers in Belgium, in order to improve the care for hepatitis C and the goals of reach the WHO.