Global ambition to eliminate viral hepatitis C

Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, despite the existence of antiviral medicines which can cure more than 95% of patients with hepatitis C infection.  A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer1.

Approximately 14 million Europeans are chronically infected with HCV – about 20% of the global total – and 112 500 people die every year due to hepatitis C-related cirrhosis or liver cancer3

HCV is most commonly transmitted:

  • in health care settings, due to reuse or inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, especially syringes and needles;
  • dental procedures;
  • when blood safety measures are suboptimal, via transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products, and
  • during injecting and intranasal5 drug use, through the sharing of contaminated equipment for injection (e.g: syringe, spoons, cotton and “cookers”) and contaminated drug-sniffing implements (e.g: straws used to snort powdered drugs).

HCV can also be transmitted sexually and can be passed from an infected mother to her infant.

HCV is not spread through breastmilk, food or water or by casual contact such as hugging, kissing or sharing food or drinks with an infected person 3.

Since there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, prevention should be focused on reducing the risk of exposure to the virus. Especially people who inject drugs are at the highest risk of acquiring hepatitis C due to sharing syringes, needles and other injecting equipment 3.

The targets include:

  • an 80% reduction in HCV infections
  • a 65% reduction in HCV-related mortality,
  • 90% of patients with HCV diagnosed, and
  • 80% of patients with HCV treated.

Ambition is not enough: Your role in supporting elimination

Elimination is now more possible than ever.

Currently, only 5 countries are on track to achieve the WHO goal with an additional 12 countries working towards elimination. This is based on estimates from a global registry – the Polaris Observatory – which provides epidemiological data, modelling tools, and decision analytics in viral hepatitis to support the WHO elimination goal.4

Although progress is being made, there are still numerous efforts that can improve the current situation. Every single person who is involved in the care of people living with HCV has an important role to play: 


  • If you are a healthcare professional, you’re instrumental in implementing screening and linkage to care programs, or simplifying treatment pathways for those with difficulty accessing care
  • If you are a policy maker or patient advocate, you are key to support active monitoring on the progress of existing national plans or voice the need for a (new) dedicated national plan 
  • If you work with people living with HCV, help raise awareness of the disease and drive testing in your community
  • If you think you or someone you know may have HCV, contact your doctor and get tested
  • If you work with people who are at high risk of contracting HCV or have difficulty accessing care (e.g. people who use drugs), help them get tested and understand the benefits of HCV treatment, and work with healthcare professionals to bring treatment to those living with HCV.

Elimination will not happen unless we all work together – everyone has a role to play and every action helps to move towards the WHO goal.

Projects: Elimination is happening here

Gilead actively supports the efforts of governments and partners with professional organizations, patient advocacy groups, payers and healthcare professionals around the world who have declared their intention and commitment to work towards the WHO goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.



Discover the local projects towards HCV elimination supported by Gilead in Belgium and Luxembourg.



Gilead is supporting several international programs towards elimination. 

DAA, direct-acting antiviral; HCV, hepatitis C virus, HIV, human immunodeficiency virus.


While this information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication (May 2020), changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.

This page will be updated regularly.


  1. World Health Organization (WHO). Hepatitis C Key facts sheet. July 2019. Available at (assessed May 2020)
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2016-2021. June 2016. Available at: (accessed May 2020).
  3. World HealthOrganization (WHO). Hepatitis C in the WHO European Region FACTSHEET.July 2019. Available at: (accessed May 2020).
  4. The POLARIS Observatory. Available at: (accessed May 2020).
  5. Sagiv Aaron, James M. McMahon, Danielle Milano, Leilani Torres, Michael Clatts, Stephanie Tortu, Donna Mildvan, Malgorzata Simm, Intranasal Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus: Virological and Clinical Evidence, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 47, Issue 7, 1 October 2008, Pages 931–934,