Australians from all walks of life can have hepatitis B or C, but a third of a million aren’t coming forward for vital treatment that can save their lives.
Ten thousand South Australians have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C but only a quarter have been cured. Another 7,500 remain untreated. Of these a fifth (1,500) don't even know they have hepatitis C.
Similarly, 14,460 South Australians live with chronic hepatitis B but only 14 per cent are in regular care. Without regular monitoring and treatment when needed, a quarter of people with chronic hepatitis B can end up with serious liver disease such as liver cancer or liver failure. About two in five Australians with hepatitis B don't know they have it.
New hepatitis C treatments have a high cure rate of 95 per cent and little or no side effects. Unlike most people in the rest of the world, Australians with hepatitis C have universal access to subsidised treatment on the new direct acting antivirals.
This arrangement may not last forever. It's been 29 months since the new drugs were first listed; we are almost at the mid-point of the five year agreement the Government made with the drug companies but less than half of the people with hepatitis C have been treated.
World Hepatitis Day on 28 July is a reminder to South Australians not to wait any longer.
Hepatitis C can be cured and now's the time to do it.
Hepatitis B has little or no symptoms until serious liver disease develops. Don't wait for symptoms. Get tested. Then get vaccinated or treated.