WHO to Release New Guidelines for Simultaneous Treatment of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C

In a recent announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided updates regarding the simultaneous treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis C (HCV). The latest evidence suggests that administering treatment for HCV alongside multi-drug resistant or rifampicin-resistant TB (MDR/RR-TB) is not only feasible but also offers potential benefits that outweigh the associated risks. Co-administration of these treatments may enhance the success rates of MDR/RR-TB treatment while reducing instances of treatment failures, loss to follow-up, and fatalities. Additionally, the importance of providing support for adherence to HCV treatment during MDR/RR-TB treatment is emphasized.

Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme, highlighted the significance of addressing concomitant hepatitis C and drug-resistant TB, stating that it poses a significant threat to the health of individuals and their families worldwide. The availability of effective therapies for both diseases that can be safely administered concurrently is expected to improve health outcomes and save lives.

This communication aims to inform national TB programs, hepatitis programs, policymakers, and technical organizations about the importance of seamless integration and enhancing the quality of TB services at the national level.

The forthcoming edition of WHO consolidated guidelines on TB and drug-resistant TB treatment, along with the Operational Handbook on Tuberculosis: Module 4: treatment, will incorporate these updated recommendations and provide detailed insights from the evidence review that informed the analysis.

Despite the revolutionary impact of short-course oral direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) in HCV treatment, managing chronic HCV in MDR/RR-TB patients remains challenging due to divergent national policies and practices. To address this gap in knowledge, WHO gathered ‘expert evidence’ from clinical experts worldwide through a public call.

WHO expresses gratitude to the members of the Guideline Development Group, evidence reviewers, national TB programs, WHO personnel, technical and funding partners, community and civil society representatives, patients, caregivers, and clinical experts for their contributions to the data informing this update.

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