NSW HEPATITIS INFOLINE

Coronavirus COVID-19 factsheet for people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C

HomeThe Hep-VineCoronavirus COVID-19 factsheet for people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C

COVID 19On 12 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus COVID-19 a pandemic. For people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, this is what you need to know about COVID-19 and how you may be affected.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019.

How does Coronavirus spread?

The virus can be spread from person-to-person through:

  • close contact with someone who has the virus
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, then touching your face.

You can download posters about COVID-19, developed for Aboriginal communities, like this one about Good Health and Hygiene and more posters here.

Coronavirus in Australia

To date, COVID-19 has remained relatively contained in Australia, with the majority of cases being a result of overseas travel. However, the large amount of media attention given to the virus can make it hard to separate fact from fiction.

Will COVID-19 mean any change to my treatment and care for hepatitis B or hepatitis C?

People living with hepatitis B or C who are currently taking treatment should not change or stop their treatment unless advised to do so by their treating doctor. People should be aware that recent changes restricting prescriptions to a one-month supply of medications means ensuring you plan and avoid missing doses. There is nothing to suggest that the availability of medications used for hepatitis B or C will be reduced due to COVID-19.

Monitoring your health will continue to be important and access to doctors may vary. Some clinics are establishing telephone consultations but making appointments in advance will be important. You should check with your healthcare provider to see what arrangements they are putting in place. If you have an appointment with your doctor it is good to consider asking your doctor for a liver health check if you have not had one in the last six months.

Hepatitis C and hepatitis B… and COVID-19

Information suggests some people who have been living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C for some time, and who have developed advanced liver diseases (including cirrhosis) could be at greater risk of serious health complications if they become infected with COVID-19. This includes people who have ongoing health conditions as a result of a previous hepatitis C infection which has been cured. We’ll update this advisory as more information becomes available.

The factsheet, available below, contains information on COVID-19 for people affected by viral hepatitis, including information about how to reduce the likelihood of infection. The key message is to be vigilant and use basic measures to protect yourself against COVID-19. Consult a healthcare provider if in doubt about your risk, especially if you have been around someone who has travelled overseas recently.

Some people living with existing chronic conditions could be at greater risk of serious health complications if they become infected with COVID-19. To help people living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, or chronic conditions caused by a previous hepatitis C infection, Hepatitis Australia has put together a factsheet.

View the factsheet [updated March 20, 2020] >>> CLICK HERE

Contact the Hepatitis Infoline 1800 803 990 speak to someone about how Coronavirus/COVID-19 might affect you if you have hepatitis B or C.

Other links

To find your nearest COVID-19 Assessment Clinic >>

Preventing Coronavirus Outbreaks in Aboriginal Communities Factsheet>>

For psychological, online support aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (bulk billed) read this flyer >>

For (national) information about COVID-19 please see HealthDirect.gov.au >>

For (NSW) information about COVID-19 please see NSW Health.gov.au >>

For localised information about COVID-19 please see your local NSW Local Health District website >>

Symptom checker - COVID-19

Regarding clinical attendance via video-consultations in Australia

It might be possible for you to attend GPs and specialist clinics – such as Liver Clinics and Gastro Clinics – via video – please check with your GP or specialist.
For gastrointestinal and liver patients this applies to people considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus:

  • at least 70 years old; or
  • at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
  • is pregnant; or
  • is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
  • is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised.

Comments(10)

  1. REPLY
    Greg says

    Did not really answer the question.

    • REPLY
      Grace Crowley says

      Hi Greg – did you check out the factsheet >>>click here Was there anything else, specifically that wasn’t covered there that you’d like to know? Thank you

  2. REPLY
    Jack says

    If I am on treatment – Ribavirin and epclusa am I at more risk for Covid 19 as surely this medication is messing with my immune system? I have a fever every day and banging headaches along with insomnia – but these could be side effects from the meds. Please let me know if i should just stop taking the course for now and picking it back up when this pandemic ends.

    • REPLY
      Grace Crowley says

      Hi Jack, thanks for asking. Definitely don’t stop your treatment without consulting with your doctor. While most people experience very few or minimal side-effects, it is not uncommon for others. The headaches and insomnia you describe might be due to to the meds, but might also not be. At any rate, clearing your hep C is ultimately much much better for your immune system and will give it a solid leg up should it need to deal with COVID-19 at any stage, now or later. If you need more info and are in NSW, please call our free infoline 1800 803 990 or if you are elsewhere in Australia 1800 437 222 (1800 HEP ABC). Kind regards

  3. REPLY
    Terrianne Palmer says

    I dunno if I missed something here, but it told me nothing regarding hep c and covid19. Ie; am I more art risk, need to do anything different or more than anyone else… And I did click the link, nothing… Either of them.

    • REPLY
      Grace Crowley says

      Thanks Terrianne – we will pass your feedback on to make the info sheet more useful. But in short, information suggests some people living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C could be at greater risk of serious health complications if they become infected with COVID-19. In particular, if you have had hep B or hep C for some time, and have developed advanced liver diseases (including cirrhosis) this makes severe COVID-19 illness more likely. This includes people who have ongoing health conditions as a result of a previous hepatitis C infection which has been cured.If you need more info and are in NSW, please call our free infoline 1800 803 990 or if you are elsewhere in Australia 1800 437 222 (1800 HEP ABC). Kind regards

  4. REPLY
    Aaron Rorvig says

    I guess it kind of answerd my question but not really. what my question is are people who have or have had hep C are they more susceptible and in danger because of this virus

    • REPLY
      Grace Crowley says

      Hi Aaron. For people who have been living with hep C there is a chance their immune system will be compromised and/or under greater pressure. In particular, people who have had the hep C virus for many years, especially those with liver damage (cirrhosis or liver cancer), might be more at risk from COVID-19 since it seems to have a more noticeable impact on people with chronic illnesses. This may also apply to people who have had hep C and been cured if they had significant liver damage at the time of cure and their liver is still in recovery mode. There is a phone conference of various gastrointestinal specialists and hepatologists in Australia today and we’re hoping that this will provide greater clarification around these questions. We will update this page and the infosheet as soon as this information comes to light. Kind regards

  5. REPLY
    Anuradhaavinash Kaur says

    My husband has been having fevers, diarrhea, burning feet and weakness. He went to the doctors and all they did was get him a covid test, we havent gotten the results back yet. We assume the symptoms are due to this liver issues which he’s had for a while. Hes been in bed for a few days, I’ve given him medicine for his fever and pain but it doesnt seem to help too much, the fever always comes back. Its been a few days like this, we dont whether we should go to the ER or not.

    • REPLY
      Grace Crowley says

      Sorry to hear he is so unwell. He should go to the ER.

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