Published online Jul 28, 2017. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v9.i21.921
Peer-review started: April 12, 2017
First decision: May 22, 2017
Revised: June 4, 2017
Accepted: July 7, 2017
Article in press: July 10, 2017
Published online: July 28, 2017
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) which was originally recognized as posttransfusion non-A, non-B hepatitis has been a major global health problem affecting 3% of the world population. Interferon/peginterferon and ribavirin combination therapy was the backbone of chronic HCV therapy for two decades of the journey. However, the interferon based treatment success rate was around 50% with many side effects. Many chronic HCV patients with psychiatric diseases, or even cytopenias, were ineligible for HCV treatment. Now, we no longer need any injectable medicine. New direct-acting antiviral agents against HCV allowed the advance of interferon-free and ribavirin-free oral regimens with high rates of response and tolerability. The cost of the medications should not be a barrier to their access in certain parts of the world. While we are getting closer, we should still focus on preventing the spread of the disease, screening and delivering the cure globally to those in need. In the near future, development of an effective vaccine against HCV would make it possible to eradicate HCV infection worldwide completely.
Core tip: Spreading awareness about the need for screening and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) will help identifying more cases to provide appropriate treatment. As more direct-acting agents are coming out of the pipeline, healthcare managers will face the major task of making those medicines available to HCV-infected patients. One of the efforts, successfully dismantling some of those barriers is the Extended Community Healthcare Outcomes project. Finally, efforts toward developing effective vaccines should be boosted as history tells us that most of success stories in eradicating infectious illness were made possible largely because of vaccines against the offending pathogen.