U-FOLD leads new initiative to combat hepatitis C

16 June 2017

U-FOLD is a network at Uppsala University that works against dependence on pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs. In line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal of eliminating hepatitis C, a deadly viral disease, U-FOLD has initiated a project to improve its treatment. A Swedish interdisciplinary expert group has issued a joint consensus document as a first step towards coordination of care services and social welfare agencies.

Sweden has the second-highest death rate from drug-related causes in the whole EU.  The Swedish government is now acting to help people at risk and to reduce deaths. One cause of the problem is that many people who inject drugs (PWID) and patients who receive opioid substitution therapy (OST) suffer from the deadly viral disease hepatitis C (HCV), but lack access to treatment.

WHO’s goal is to eliminate HCV. Specifically, the global targets are, by 2030, to reduce new infections by 90% and HCV-related deaths by 65%. However, to succeed, further efforts are needed to find and treat all HCV-infected people before they risk becoming gravely ill and spreading the disease further.

U-FOLD at Uppsala University has initiated a project to obtain relevant documentation for improving HCV treatment of PWID and OST patients in Sweden. An interdisciplinary expert group with a variety of roles in psychiatric services, dependence care and infection clinics have pooled their specialist knowledge in a consensus document in Swedish, with a view to improving HCV treatment of PWID and OST  patients in this country.

“To treat these patient categories and reach WHO’s goal of elimination, we need a successful national strategy. This consensus document, presented at a seminar in Stockholm on 27 April 2017, is therefore a necessary first step in coordinating the inputs of substance abuse care, psychiatry, social services, law enforcement agencies and health care,” says Fred Nyberg, Senior Professor at Uppsala University and U-FOLD coordinator.

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U-FOLD describes itself as “a forum for research on addiction to medical products and illegal drugs”. Its members, researchers and professionals, are working together to develop society’s measures to combat abuse of these substances and tackle the consequences and problems it entails.