Sydney, Australia – 21 February 2017: More Australians were treated for their hepatitis C infection in the first year new generation hepatitis C regimens were made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemes than in the past decade, according to a new report released today by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney.
The Kirby Institute report ‘Monitoring Hepatitis C Treatment Uptake in Australia’ provides information on the first year of the direct-acting antiviral (DAA) hepatitis C treatment program in Australia. The report indicates that more than 30,000 Australians were treated for their hepatitis C virus infection in 2016 – a massive increase on the 2,000-3,000 people with hepatitis C treated annually prior to the listing.
“Australia has achieved one of the most rapid uptakes of treatment worldwide and has a unique opportunity to eliminate a major infectious disease, potentially the first opportunity through treatment intervention,” said Professor Greg Dore. “Providing Australians living with hep C ongoing access to effective, well-tolerated treatment will help curb transmission of the virus, reduce rates of liver disease, and eliminate hep C as a major public health issue within a decade,” he said.
The report also shows that an increasing proportion of patients are being treated by general practitioners.
“We’re really pleased to see increasing numbers GPs prescribing hep C treatments,” said Professor Dore. “This means greater access to treatment and care for people living with hep C.
“Hepatitis C is particularly problematic in marginalised and stigmatised populations, including Indigenous Australians, those who are incarcerated, and people who inject drugs. 90 per cent of newly acquired hep C cases are among people who inject drugs.
“Efforts must also be directed towards strategies that prevent infections from occurring, such as providing greater access to clean needles and syringes and drug dependency treatment for people who inject drugs,” said Dore.