While hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and HIV/ HCV co-infection are major epidemics affecting people who inject drugs (PWID) in Asia, there is little response at any level. Research conducted by the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) in 2011 found high levels of HCV infection among PWID in Asia, but that awareness and information about HCV is poor or non-existent; policy, treatment programs and preventive interventions for HCV in Asia are poor or underdeveloped; and PWID, governments and NGOs are ignorant of transmission routes and treatment. There is little health care for people living with the hepatitis C virus (PLHCV), and the integration of HIV care, HCV care, drug treatment and general health care is woefully lacking. Major barriers to care include stigma and discrimination, lack of testing facilities and the high cost of testing and treatment. HCV and HIV continue to spread among PWID in the Asian region due to the lack of effective harm reduction policies and poor coverage by harm reduction programs.
The political environment in Asia is hugely adverse to the rights and needs of PWID, and is exacerbated by the War on Drugs policies, high rates of incarceration for drug offences and long periods of detention in well over a 1000 Compulsory Centre’s for Drug Users (CCDU) across the region . Because HCV is perceived to affect only PWID, it is difficult to gain political support for action on HCV issues and makes advocacy for humane and effective HCV responses challenging.. ANPUD has found an urgent need for the development of national policy on HCV in Asian countries focused where the need is – among the PWID Community.