Hanoi, Vietnam, May 3, 2022—A new article published in the Clinical Liver Disease journal presents impactful results from a novel community-based and HIV integrated hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing model in Vietnam, a country where 8.8 million people are estimated to be living with HBV and HCV infection, yet 80 to 90 percent are undiagnosed and untreated. These findings are drawn from HepLINK, a PATH-led initiative in partnership with The Hepatitis Fund that seeks to provide learning in ways to best increase access to viral hepatitis screening, diagnosis, and treatment within primary and community health care.
From April to October 2021, the HepLINK model reached 8,840 people for HBV and/or HCV screening. Of those confirmed with HBV and HCV, 70 and 38 percent were linked to treatment, respectively, through the linkage from screening to appropriate care and treatment that was established and facilitated by HepLINK-supported sites. This demonstrates a significant increase in treatment uptake compared to the current estimate that less than 10 percent of people diagnosed with HBV and HCV are treated.
“In a low-resourced setting like Vietnam, implementing systematic viral hepatitis testing integrated with existing HIV services provides a tremendous opportunity to accelerate testing uptake, case detection, and linkage to care and treatment for hepatitis B and C. This approach helps reach people where they are, and addresses what they need to prevent advanced HIV, chronic liver disease and cancer, and death,” said Vu Ngoc Bao, MD, Senior Technical Director at PATH, who oversees the HepLINK project.
While access to viral hepatitis confirmatory testing and treatment in Vietnam remains challenging, the HepLINK model has helped close some of the key gaps in the current viral hepatitis cascade and increase overall awareness, availability, and accessibility of services among communities facing the greatest risks. PATH and The Hepatitis Fund are now working with the Vietnam Ministry of Health to define ways forward for scaling this integrative care model in support of the country’s viral hepatitis elimination goals.
Launched in 2020, HepLINK targets the key populations most affected by HBV and HCV in Vietnam, including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender women, female sex workers, and people living with HIV. PATH engages community-based organizations and private clinics led by these key population groups, as well as public outpatient and methadone maintenance treatment clinics, in providing systematic screening for HBV and HCV, and referring and linking to HBV/HCV confirmatory testing, diagnosis, and treatment services. For more information about HepLINK, see this fact sheet.