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Being cured of hepatitis C a “huge relief”

Jase BellOver 22,000 people in New South Wales have started treatment for, and been cured of, hepatitis C since 2016. While this is a great achievement for our community, it is estimated that a further 58,000 across the state are yet to seek treatment and cure. That number represents way more people than it would take to fill the Sydney Cricket Ground!

Thanks to groundbreaking medications, elimination of hepatitis C is now an achievable goal, but one which requires the combined efforts of government, the health sector, and community to be fully realised.

During Hepatitis Awareness Week (22–28 July) and with World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, Hepatitis NSW is encouraging all people across the state who are living with hepatitis C, to take advantage of new easy-to-take and highly effective medications.

The medications, which have a cure rate of 95 per cent, can be prescribed by any general practitioner, and cure is usually achieved within 8 or 12 weeks, with minimal or no side-effects. These new oral pill treatments have offered a revolutionary opportunity. It is important that people see their GP to be treated; while hepatitis C initially has almost no symptoms, if left untreated it can ultimately result in significant liver disease.

Jase Bell, a Hepatitis NSW community speaker, said he was unsure how long he had been living with hepatitis C before he was diagnosed 18 months ago. “I might have had it for up to ten years, and I was shocked to be diagnosed because I had no idea at all,” Jase said. “Fortunately, I was able to be treated and cured within a few short months. It was a huge relief, a great weight lifted off my shoulders.”

With so many people cured it is encouraging that progress has been made in reaching the NSW goal of eliminating hepatitis C across the state by 2028, but now is not the time to rest. It is essential that anyone who believes they may be living with hepatitis C, strongly consider commencing treatment, and get themselves cured. It’s equally important for all GPs across NSW to also join the effort if they haven’t already done so.

“I would absolutely recommend the cures to anyone living with hep C,” said Jase. “Just do it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

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DAAs decrease hep C deaths but double GPs needed

Hepatitis C deaths have declined by 20% in the two years since direct-acting antivirals were added to the PBS, infectious diseases physicians say. Professor Greg Dore, from the Kirby Institute, says the decline in deaths among patients with liver disease is remarkable and testament to the high uptake of the drugs.

“Around 10% of GPs have written a script for these new therapies — we’d like to potentially double that.”

www.pharmacynews.com.au/news/remarkable-results-daas-decrease-hep-c-deaths

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Fewer Australians are dying from hepatitis C

The number of Australians dying from liver failure and liver cancer related to hepatitis C has dropped by 20 per cent in just two years, according to preliminary data released today by The Kirby Institute. It follows the introduction of highly effective, low-cost curative drugs to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in 2016.

“This decline reflects the high uptake of direct-acting antiviral therapies among people with hepatitis C, particularly those with more advanced liver disease,” said Greg Dore from the Kirby Institute.

www.abc.net.au/news/health/2018-08-13/fewer-australians-dying-from-hepatitis-c

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Govt intervenes to keep hep C elimination on track

NSW Health is encouraging people across the state living with hepatitis C to take advantage of new easy-to-take and highly effective medications, which can cure the illness. The medication program is part of the NSW Ministry of Health’s $4.5 million investment in 2018-19 to strengthen hepatitis C testing and treatment.

This year, Hepatitis Awareness Week is focusing on increasing treatment efforts for people who inject drugs. All people who currently inject drugs or have previously injected drugs should ask their doctor for a hepatitis C test and for hepatitis C treatment if they do have the infection.

www.theleader.com.au/story/5553811/keeping-hepatitis-c-elimination-on-track/

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