Gilead awards $4M funding to hepatitis B, C, D elimination projects

All4LIVER program grants go to 71 organizations worldwide

Lindsey Shapiro, PhD avatar

by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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Gilead Sciences has awarded $4 million in funding via its ALL4LIVER grant program to organizations worldwide whose community-based efforts will help the World Health Organization (WHO) work toward its goal of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

The every-other-year grant program, launched in 2021 to target chronic hepatitis B in the Asia-Pacific region, has since expanded globally (excluding the U.S.) to accelerate actions to meet WHO’s goal.

The 2023 winners, a total of 71 organizations across Africa, South America, Asia, Oceania, Europe, and North America, are working on community projects associated with reducing stigma and improving access to testing and care for people infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), or hepatitis D virus (HDV).

Some of the awardees were showcased at the World Hepatitis Summit, held in Lisbon, Portugal, April 9-11. The event was organized by the World Hepatitis Alliance, which supported the global expansion of Gilead’s ALL4LIVER grant by joining other experts in the grant review committee, and co-sponsored by the WHO.

“The augmented grant and heightened financial support underscore our steadfast dedication to nurturing innovative solutions, empowering communities, and actively supporting the ambitious aim of eradicating viral hepatitis by 2030,” Alex Kalomparis, Gilead’s senior vice president of public affairs, said in a company press release.

Partnerships seen as key to eliminating hepatitis

“Gilead’s ALL4LIVER initiative exemplifies the strength of collaborative efforts in our battle against viral hepatitis,” said Rachel Halford, president of the World Hepatitis Alliance. “Public-private partnerships are integral to achieving our shared goal of a world free from hepatitis.”

Hepatitis, referring broadly to inflammation of the liver, is most often caused by infection with a virus. Hepatitis A, mainly spread through contaminated drinking water or food, usually leads to mild and acute infections.

HBV, HCV, and HCD are spread via contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids, and are more likely to cause chronic infections and serious health problems like irreversible liver damage and scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure.

Despite advances in treatment and care — including vaccines for some hepatitis types — millions of premature deaths can be attributed to viral hepatitis infections worldwide, according to the WHO. The organization is working on efforts to reduce new hepatitis infections by 90% and hepatitis-related deaths by 65% between 2016 and 2030.

With ALL4LIVER, Gilead, which markets a number of hepatitis therapies, aims to empower communities to tackle the stigma and discrimination associated with hepatitis.

“Stigma and discrimination of hepatitis are often caused by misunderstandings about how hepatitis is transmitted, and it can affect the everyday lives of people living with hepatitis and impact their willingness to seek help,” said Luís Mendão, director of advocacy, health policies, and external relations at grant winner Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamento (GAT) in Portugal.

“Community-driven initiatives empower us to address these pivotal challenges and yield meaningful results,” Mendão said.

GAT is working toward scaling up community-based HCV and HDV detection among vulnerable groups within Portugal. Meanwhile, the Centre for Initiative and Development Taraba in Nigeria is working on boosting hepatitis awareness and testing in pregnant women and increasing their access to treatment.

Funding for projects in India

Two projects based in India, where a large proportion of the world’s hepatitis burden resides, were also among awardees.

FIND will use the funds to support small-scale efforts for eliminating HCV infections in Indian communities. The nonprofit will work with the National and State Viral Hepatitis Control Program to help make existing governmental testing and treatment programs more accessible to high risk groups, such as injectable drug users.

That will include a peer navigator system to guide injectable drug users toward timely screening, care, and adherence to care.

“Reaching hepatitis elimination in India depends on making simpler diagnostics available to everyone who needs them, particularly in underserved and vulnerable communities,” Kanudeep Kaur, FIND India’s project lead, said in a separate Gilead press release announcing the two India-based grantees.

Chennai Liver Foundation, meanwhile, will work to scale up its educational program designed to make healthcare professionals proficient in hepatitis B prevention and treatment.

Outcomes and methods from the training program will be published and presented to help raise awareness and improve standards of care across local and nationwide agencies and organizations.

“With the ALL4LIVER grant, we’re proud to join forces with our community partners more closely, nurturing innovative solutions specifically tailored to local challenges,” said Vaibhavi Choksi, general manager for Gilead global patient solutions in India and South Asia. “Together, we envision a future where the burden of hepatitis is a thing of the past, and healthcare is truly accessible to all,” Choksi said.