An increasing number of countries are committing to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) targets to eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) as a public health threat by 2030. These include service coverage targets (90% diagnosed and 80% of diagnosed patients treated) and impact targets (80% and 65% reductions in incidence and mortality, respectively, compared to 2015 levels). Currently, a dozen countries are on track to reach 2030 WHO HCV targets. However, while striving for the WHO targets is important, it should be recognized that progress on impact targets is derived from mathematical models projecting decreases in incidence and mortality on a global scale. Despite HCV treatment access in many counties for a number of years, limited empirical data are available to evaluate progress towards elimination. In some countries, substantial incidence and mortality reductions based on reaching the WHO service coverage targets may be unachievable. For example, in countries with ageing hepatitis C–infected populations, even if they have a quality hepatitis C response, high hepatitis C–related morbidity at baseline may not be reversible even with increased HCV treatment uptake and diagnosis. Finally, WHO targets are not necessarily easily or reliably measurable. Measuring relative impact targets requires high-quality data at baseline (ie 2015) and longitudinal data to assess temporal trends. In this commentary, we propose alternative additional measures to track progress on reducing the HCV burden, offer examples where the WHO targets may not be informative or achievable, and potential practical solutions.
- hepatitis C virus
- WHO targets