Think you have what it takes to get people tested for viral hepatitis? The World Health Organization (WHO) recently launched a contest online seeking out real-world examples of innovative ways health workers are reaching out to different populations to test for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) across the planet, according to a press release from the group.
The competition, titled the #HepTestContest and promoted on various social media sites, was launched in collaboration with Social Entrepreneurship for Sexual Health (SeSH), a WHO partner organization. Novel testing approaches submitted so far have included a wide array of initiatives, including prison hepatitis testing campaigns, workplace and hospital emergency room programs and integrated HIV-hepatitis testing plans, as well as the use of the Internet, social media and electronic medical records to flag high-risk patients for care.
Ultimately, WHO’s contest received 64 contributions from 27 countries. WHO has since selected 20 semifinalists and five finalists. Top winners include a plan by the Community Network for Empowerment in Northeast India to reach out to local drug users and another Internet-based risk assessment campaign targeting people living with hepatitis C in the Netherlands.
Moving forward, all #HepTestContest finalists’ programs will be reviewed by a panel of experts, including representatives from WHO, the World Hepatitis Alliance and Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), who will evaluate each for innovation, effectiveness and plans for sustainability.
In addition to announcing the winners over the next few weeks, WHO will releasing new testing guidelines for hepatitis B and C.