Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. HCV predominates in people who inject drugs; a group in whom anti-viral therapy has previously been withheld on the basis of chaotic lifestyles and associated risks of reinfection. New research has emerged which suggests that by specifically targeting HCV-infected people who inject drugs for treatment, the pool of HCV would deplete, thus reducing overall transmission and eventually leading to HCV eradication.
Aim: To outline the requirements for HCV eradication and review the evidence that this is achievable.
Methods: Expert review of the literature.
Results: The achievement of HCV eradication using 'treatment as prevention' is supported by numerous epidemiological modelling studies employing a variety of models in several contexts including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and prisoners. More recent studies also incorporate the newer, more efficacious direct-acting anti-viral drugs. These drugs have been shown to be safe and effective in people who inject drugs in clinical trials. There is no empirical evidence of the impact of treatment as prevention strategies on population prevalence.
Conclusions: This review highlights the efforts to control HCV and evaluates the possibilities of achieving eradication of HCV. Currently, the technologies required to achieve HCV eradication exist, but the infrastructure to deliver them is not generally available or of insufficient scale outside of specific areas. Such areas are yet to demonstrate that elimination is possible, but results of studies in these areas are awaited. Such a demonstration would be proof of principle for eradication. Although we are aspiring towards HCV eradication, elimination is the more realistic prospect.