Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant is encouraging people living with hepatitis C in NSW to take advantage of new highly effective cures, as part of Hepatitis Awareness Week.
“We’re aiming to eliminate hepatitis C within the next 10 years,” Dr Chant said.
“Thanks to groundbreaking medications, the elimination of hepatitis C is now an achievable goal.
“New medications have a cure rate of 95 per cent. They can be prescribed by any GP and a cure is usually achieved within eight to 12 weeks, with few or no side-effects.”
Around 29 per cent of people estimated to be living with hepatitis C in NSW or 23,652 people, have now been treated. About 58,000 people across the state are yet to seek treatment.
For each patient cured, the NSW healthcare savings are $1,612 per year. This equates to $82 million in savings and more than 22,000 patients cured since the new treatments became available in 2016.
Hepatitis NSW CEO, Stuart Loveday, said the new oral pill treatments are revolutionary compared to the previous combination pill and injection treatments which took longer, had more side-effects and lower cure rates.
“It’s so important that people see their GP to get treated if they think they might have hepatitis C. Initially, there are almost no symptoms but if left untreated, hepatitis C can ultimately result in significant liver disease,” Mr Loveday said.
Hepatitis NSW community speaker, Jase Bell, 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 20 years – I was shocked to be diagnosed because I had no idea at all,” Mr Bell said.
“Fortunately, I was able to be treated and cured within a few short months. I would absolutely recommend the treatment to anyone living with hep C. Just do it.”
Hepatitis Awareness Week runs from 22 July, concluding with World Hepatitis Day on 28 July. For more information on testing, treatment, and prevention for hepatitis C call the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 900 or visit hepc.org.au.