Hep C test urged as sim­ple treat­ment avail­able

Pilbara News - - News - Sophia Con­stan­tine

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.

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