HIV and Hepatitis integration at ICASA 2023

ICASA 2023, the 22nd edition of the largest conference on HIV/AIDS in Africa, will take place from 4 to 9 December in Harare, Zimbabwe.

On Thursday, 7 December 2023, we will join a Satellite Session we co-organised with the Society for AIDS in Africa, the WHO, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) on HIV and Hepatitis Integration. During the session, we will explore approaches to addressing the viral hepatitis burden in people living with HIV (PLHIV), providing a deeper insight into the strategic approaches employed for programme integration. It will further provide the platform to understand first-hand the struggles of PLHIV living with comorbidities and the need for rapid implementation of patient-centred interventions. 

Together, HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and STIs account significantly for global disease mortality, with an estimated 2.3 million deaths and 1.2 million cases of cancer each year. Despite interventions, HIV constitutes a major global health challenge, claiming over 35 million lives so far. In 2019, WHO estimated 1.5 million new HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) infections. While decades of investments have resulted in solid progress in HIV diagnosis and treatment, HBV and HCV interventions lag with around 10% and 26% of those with chronic HBV and chronic HCV diagnosed and even fewer treated. 

Dying from viral hepatitis in Africa is becoming a bigger threat than dying from HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis, yet the disease remains neglected with increased attention and funding priorities focused on HIV, malaria, and TB. The viral hepatitis burden is ten times greater than the HIV burden, with an estimated 325 million persons living with this epidemic. Approximately 70 million Africans are living with viral hepatitis – 60 million with HBV and 10 million with HCV.

Addressing the viral hepatitis burden and its impact on people living with HIV has been challenging, with limited donor financing to facilitate access to HCV curative treatments and HBV prophylaxis/treatment. A few countries have support from partners and, referencing WHO recommendations, have taken proactive steps to address the viral hepatitis burden, exploring opportunities for integrated programmes. Catalytic funding remains pivotal and fundamental to accelerate efforts and create a transformational impact to ensure countries achieve the 2030 elimination goals.  

Photo credit: Tatenda Mapigoti/Unsplash.