Published online Jun 14, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i22.5137
Peer-review started: March 25, 2016
First decision: April 14, 2016
Revised: April 22, 2016
Accepted: May 4, 2016
Article in press: May 4, 2016
Published online: June 14, 2016
Over the last few years, we have expanded our knowledge on numerous facets of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Beginning with its discovery and viral life cycle, its impact on health, the development of liver disease and currently, effective antiviral treatments. The latter point has become of great interest throughout the developed world, where the possible eradication of HCV through specific strategies to reach all HCV-infected people has been announced. However, this scenario is very different in the countries of Latin America (LA), in which < 2% of infected patients requiring treatment have access to HCV medications. It has been estimated that at least ten million Latin Americans may be infected with HCV. Despite the numbers, viral hepatitis does not seem to be considered a health problem in this region of the world. This reality poses a challenge for politicians and governments of these countries, as well as to the pharmaceutical industry, the medical practitioners, and academics in LA. In this editorial, we state the need for alterations in the attitudes of the integral players involved in this situation. A recognition shift could help to create preventive strategies of viral hepatitis and to advocate for accessibility to new HCV treatments.
Core tip: Global eradication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is causing considerable interest, especially in the developed world. However, the accessibility to the new direct-acting antiviral regimens in low- and middle- income countries is an unmet need. At least ten million HCV-infected persons in Latin America (LA) are confronted by multiple barriers to HCV treatment. Moreover, for the LA countries, paradoxically at it seems, money may not be the only issue. The health authorities, the medical community, and the pharmaceutical industry are the key players that need to alter their attitude towards the delivery of HCV treatments to all patients irrespective of their socio-economic status.