Hep C break­through here

NEW TREAT­MENT ON PBS SINCE START OF YEAR

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jaime Shurmer

PEO­PLE with hepati­tis C are en­cour­aged to take ad­van­tage of a new gen­er­a­tion of treat­ments that can suc­cess­fully cure the in­fec­tion with mi­nor side-ef­fects.

Dr Sam Gal­henage, the head of Fiona Stan­ley Hos­pi­tal’s Liver Ser­vice, said the med­i­ca­tions be­came avail­able in March last year.

He said about one-eighth of the hep C pop­u­la­tion na­tion­ally had been treated in one year and that the med­i­ca­tions had proven to be 95 per cent ef­fec­tive in cur­ing the virus, com­pared with the pre­vi­ous 40 to 80 per cent.

Of more than 400 peo­ple treated by the Liver Ser­vice since then, only one per­son was not cured.

The range of med­i­ca­tions, known as di­rect-act­ing an­tivi­rals (DAA), were listed on the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Ben­e­fits Scheme from Jan­uary 1, and a med­i­ca­tion for peo­ple with the less com­mon hep C geno­type 4 is now avail­able.

A Kirby In­sti­tute re­port showed treat­ment up­take by Dr Sam Gal­henage. d465832 peo­ple ex­ceeded tar­gets set by the Aus­tralian Na­tional Hepati­tis C Strat­egy and a me­dia re­lease by phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany MSD said the na­tion could achieve virus elim­i­na­tion within a decade.

“In terms of to­tal elim­i­na­tion, I think prob­a­bly not, but we are on our way to elim­i­nat­ing it as a pub­lic health prob­lem,” Dr Gal­henage told the South­ern Gazette. “A lot of pa­tients were wait­ing years for the new treat­ment,” he said.

Treat­ment pe­ri­ods were Peo­ple who should be tested for hep C in­clude:

Any­one who has pre­vi­ously used in­tra­venous drugs, and has ab­nor­mal liver func­tion tests.

Any­one who re­ceived a blood trans­fu­sion be­fore 1990.

Peo­ple who have had tat­toos from a “back­yard” clinic.

Peo­ple whose par­ents have had hep C as, there is a 5 per cent risk of the mother pass­ing it to a child.

Ev­ery­one in the house­hold of some­one who is in­fected with hep C. also shorter, he said. “By cur­ing the virus, peo­ple are es­sen­tially pre­vented from get­ting liver dis­ease and need­ing a liver trans­plant.

“The most com­mon rea­son for liver trans­plant is com­pli­ca­tions from hep C.

“The es­ti­mated cost is more than $250 mil­lion a year to treat the com­pli­ca­tions of hep C pa­tients.”

Dr Gal­henage said hep C and al­co­hol were the two ma­jor fo­cuses of the Liver Ser­vice.

Picture: Matt Jelonek

WHO SHOULD BE TESTED

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