Hep C test urged as simple treatment available
With 355 new cases of hepatitis C diagnosed in the Pilbara each year, WA Country Health Service is encouraging community members to get regular tests.
WACHS Pilbara public health physician Dr Heather Lyttle said treatment was now much simpler, easier, and more effective than ever before as a simple blood test would detect the presence of the hepatitis C.
“It’s a new world now — unlike the old treatments, which were required to be taken for six to 12 months and had significant side effects, the new anti-viral medicines are taken as a tablet daily over a period of 12 weeks with few side effects and are providing a 90 to 95 per cent cure rate,” she said. “We have started a monthly clinic at Hedland Health Campus for treatment of hepatitis C, but general practitioners can provide these investigations and treatment also.”
Dr Lyttle said many people could be living with hepatitis C without knowing unless they are tested.
Hepatitis C is passed by blood contact, which can happen when sharing drug-taking equipment or through body piercing or tattooing.
If left untreated, the hepatitis C virus can cause the liver to stop working or develop cancer and can lead to death.
The Australian government has listed the new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, ensuring they are accessible and affordable to people with hepatitis C.