South Eastern Sydney Local Health District campaign pushes effective cures for Hep C

NSW is aiming to eliminate hepatitis C within the next 10 years. Picture: TRIBUNE
NSW is aiming to eliminate hepatitis C within the next 10 years. Picture: TRIBUNE

The local health district has launched its 2019 Hepatitis Awareness Week (July 22-28) campaign, which encourages people people living with hepatitis C in the community to take advantage of new highly effective cures.

NSW is moving closer to eliminating hepatitis C with research showing more than 22,000 people across the state have been cured of the virus, using new easy-to-take treatments.

Director of the St George Hospital Liver Clinic, Associate Professor Amany Zekry, has urged anyone in South Eastern Sydney Local Health District who believes they may be living with hepatitis C to get tested and treated.

"These new medications are very effective, with a cure rate of 95 per cent," Associate Professor Zekry said.

"The treatments can be prescribed by any GP and can cure the virus within eight to 12 weeks. They also have minimal or no side-effects."

Director of the St George Hospital Liver Clinic, Associate Professor Amany Zekry urges people to get tested and treated for hepatitis C.

Director of the St George Hospital Liver Clinic, Associate Professor Amany Zekry urges people to get tested and treated for hepatitis C.

Chief Health Officer, Kerry Chant, says NSW is moving toward the elimination of hepatitis C.

"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."

About 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 $1612 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 chief executive, Stuart Loveday, says 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," he said.

World Hepatitis Day is on 28 July.

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