Hepatitis B Foundation President Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, sits down with hcplive To discuss emerging treatment opportunities for hepatitis B, barriers and disparities in access to adequate care, and their hopes for the future of hepatitis B management.
Cohen was a speaker on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) during several sessions at The Liver Meeting 2023, including “The White House Hepatitis C Elimination Plan: What It Means for You and Your Community” and ” “New instructions for WHO”. “Global guidelines on hepatitis B diagnosis, treatment and service delivery.”
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains a significant public health burden worldwide. Despite the existence of a safe and effective vaccine, no therapeutic regimen has been identified to induce a functional cure. Several novel therapeutic approaches are in development, with Cohen describing recent advances as “an exciting time” and referencing late-stage data presented at The Liver Meeting.
In addition to developments in treatments, Cohen also noted progress around access to treatment, new treatment guidelines and biomarkers for hepatitis B, and discussed the importance of including the patient’s voice in these processes.
“One of the things we are doing as a patient advocacy organization and a public health research organization is to help integrate the patient voice and patient values and priorities and community values into things like guideline development and clinical To do.” test development and management of hepatitis B to make it more patient-centered,” Cohen explained. “We would like to see some of those integrated into the new guidelines. “We want to see patients have the opportunity to have a say in how they are treated.”
Physicians also play an important role in shaping the management of hepatitis B. Cohen described how patients are advocates, but he also emphasized the importance of physicians being advocates and using their voice and influence to help enact changes that patients may not be able to achieve. their own.
“Providers have strong voices and medical societies are strong. I think if they took a more active role in advocating for people living with hepatitis B, we would see more progress. “The patient voice is obviously very important, but it’s also a stigmatized community and it’s not necessarily heard that loudly,” Cohen said.
Pointing to other areas in need of improvement, Cohen also cited the global low-priority of hepatitis B, which is driven by a lack of access to diagnostic testing, providers not screening and vaccinating, and subsequent This manifests as an inability to treat and manage hepatitis B with the tools used. Is currently.
“We have to think about how we address challenges holistically with every stakeholder. So within the community, we have to address stigma and discrimination, we have to address treatment access issues and cost issues, encourage people to engage in the health care system and get tested and treated and vaccinated when needed. Will have to help. Cohen explained this by describing the need to increase the capacity of health care systems worldwide, so that the burden does not fall solely on hepatologists, but is addressed by government efforts to prioritize hepatitis B elimination.
Looking ahead, Cohen hopes to see simplified and expanded treatment guidelines for hepatitis B. In particular, he noted decentralized care as improving opportunities for patients and giving them a greater voice in influencing decisions related to their disease: “I think we can do a lot there,” Cohen said. Said.