, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 220-226
Date: 10 Oct 2013

The Role of Public Health in an Era of All-Oral Therapy for Hepatitis C Infection

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Abstract

The anticipation of all-oral therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection creates new opportunities for preventing HCV-related morbidity and mortality. This curative therapy is associated with fewer side effects and contraindications, which likely will greatly expand the number of persons eligible to receive treatment. To ensure that benefits from all-oral treatment regimens are realized for individuals and communities, public health can deliver essential services to meet its three fundamental roles: assessment, policy development, and assurance. Public health monitors HCV transmission and disease to prioritize populations needing care, and collaborates community-wide to create policies, plans, and programs to improve access to HCV testing and linkages to care. Public health also evaluates the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of HCV care and treatment. Public health research can reveal how curative treatments can improve prevention and eliminate disparities. The extent to which public health can identify and link HCV-infected persons to quality care and appropriate therapy will be a key determining factor in whether the full benefits of curative HCV therapy are realized.