Eliminating hepatitis C

Prior to the introduction of DAA therapy, Hepatitis C affected more than 250,000 Australians resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. [1]

In Australia, there are approximately 122,000 people living with hepatitis C and 20% of people do not know they have the virus. Around 50,000 people have engaged in some form of healthcare for hepatitis C but are yet to access treatment.  As a result of the introduction of DAA treatments and the associated high cure rates, the number of people estimated to be still living with hepatitis C at the end of 2019 was 122,264. [3]

There are many benefits of testing and treating people for hepatitis C:

  • With treatment, hepatitis C is curable
  • Treatment reduces onward transmission of hepatitis C in the community
  • Prevent liver cirrhosis and liver cancer
  • Improve the quality of the person’s physical, mental and social wellbeing
  • Provide evidenced-based healthcare for people who may have experienced trauma, disadvantage, marginalisation, substance use and stigma.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that affects the liver.

  • Left untreated, hepatitis C leads to progressive, long-term debilitating illness that significantly reduces the person’s quality of life.
  • Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis and hepatic cancer, with symptoms often appearing 20-30 years after the person first acquired the virus.

A cure for hepatitis C

  • Treatment is now more than 95% effective at curing hepatitis C
  • Most people can get a prescription from their GP
  • It is low cost for people who have a Medicare Card.

Highly effective medicines are available to cure hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks. They are easy to take, requiring as little as one tablet a day, no injections, and most people experience few to no side effects. Treatment can be used again if the person is reinfected.

The goal of elimination

The World Health Organization has set a target to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, defined as a 90% reduction in new chronic infections and a 65% reduction in mortality, compared with the 2015 baseline. To do this, we need to increase the testing and treatment of people who have hepatitis C. By participating in this program, you will be helping us work towards this goal. [2]