Current challenges and possible solutions to improve access to care and treatment for hepatitis C infection in Vietnam: a systematic review
Despite decreasing prevalence, new cases of hepatitis C in China are increasing recently with growing percentage of patients who are with advanced disease, aging, or not eligible for interferon-based treatments. Hepatitis C infection represents a serious public health burden. This review was based on expert's consensus during a medical forum on hepatitis sponsored by the Beijing Wu Jie-Ping Medical Foundation. The literature searches were conducted in PubMed and critical publications in Chinese journals. Data on hepatitis C prevalence, risk factors, viral or host features, and treatment modalities were extracted and reviewed. Recent large-scale surveys reported reducing prevalence of hepatitis C to approximately 0.4% in China, partly because of regulation changes to safer medical practices and illegalizing commercial blood donations. Patient demographics evolved from being dominated by former paid blood donors to include intravenous drug users and others. Although hepatitis C genotype 1 is the most common, other genotypes are emerging in prevalence. The current standard of care is interferon-based without direct acting antivirals. However, many patients failed therapy because of high treatment costs, substantial needs to manage side effects, difficulties with treatment monitoring in the rural areas, and growing populations of elderly and cirrhotic patients. The lack of high efficacy therapies with good safety profile and low disease awareness in China resulted in increasing public burden of advanced hepatitis C disease. Despite significant reduction of hepatitis C prevalence, iatrogenic, nosocomial, and community transmissions are still significant. In addition to promoting disease awareness, interferon-free regimens are needed to reduce the public health burden.