The Ministry of Health is studying to extend vaccination against Hepatitis A for men who have sex with men (MSM). The Department on STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (DIAHV) is discussing with the National Immunization Programme (PNI) the possibility of offering HAV vaccine for “specific groups”.

The information comes from the Ministry of Health itself, as a response for the FOAESP – State of São Paulo Forum on NGO/AIDS petition, which asked the sector to extend vaccination in a letter sent in December, last year. In the answer, signed by the substitute secretary of the Health Surveillance Secretariat, the Ministry informs that from 2017 on, it is extended the HAV vaccine for “every child aged less than five years old”. It also lists the groups which vaccination is indicated to people no matter the age and highlights that “the DIAHV is taking a joint decision with the PNI about the possibility of extending vaccination to specific communities”.

The Ministry of Health document also informs that since 2016 the Hepatitis B vaccine “is available at the public service for all the population, independently of their age (universal campaign)”.

Eliminating Viral Hepatitis
In July, the Minister of Health Ricardo Barros affirmed that from this year on, every Hepatitis-C positive individual must receive – independently of the liver fibrosis score – treatment to combat the disease. Last January 12, the Technical Advisory Committee on Viral Hepatitis held a meeting in Brasília in order to update the Clinical Protocol and Therapeutic Guidelines (PCDT) for Hepatitis C.

The committee also evaluated the possibility of including two new drugs on the treatment of the disease. The committee final document will be presented in February at the National Committee for Technology Incorporation of the Public Health System (SUS) – CONITEC. If approved by the committee, the PCDT will be submitted to public consultation in order to hear the civil society opinion.

At the meeting, the director of DIAHV, Adele Benzaken, introduced the Eliminating Viral Hepatitis Framework, as well as the strategies recommended by World Health Organization (WHO), which set reduction of new infections by 90% and mortality by 65%.

Among the strategies frameworked are the extension of diagnosis and the treatment, as well as the evaluation of the epidemiological situation and the programme on eliminating viral hepatitis. According to the DIAHV, the Hepatitis C affects about 700 thousand individuals in Brazil and it is linked to most of deaths caused by Hepatitis and most of the liver transplants in the country.

The Brazilian Eliminating Hepatitis Strategy follows the WHO Protocol. “This initiative has its greatest challenge at expanding diagnosis and treatment for all population, as the improvement of the epidemiological surveillance to achieve the elimination goal”, affirmed the DIAHV director.