Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can cause inflammation of the liver.
Hepatitis C is deemed chronic when it has been present for more than six months and is confirmed by a positive HCV RNA test.
Chronic HCV infection can cause long-term liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
New DAAs offer cure rates of >90%, with minimal side effects and shorter treatment duration.
Hepatitis C in Australia
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most commonly notified diseases in Australia.
There are an estimated 230,000 people living with chronic HCV, including 58,000 with moderate to severe liver disease.
Treatment for chronic HCV is available, helping patients to 'clear' the virus. New treatments available on the PBS from 1 March 2016 achieve clearance rates greater than 90%.
How Practitioners Can Make a Difference
New treatments from 1st March 2016
New treatments are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) from 1 March 2016. The treatments available are highly effective direct acting antivirals (DAAs) which offer cure rates of over 90%. They are all oral regimens which have few side effects. Most people will only need 12 weeks of treatment.
GPs and other medical practitioners will be able to prescribe these regimens under the S85 General Schedule in consultation with a specialist. The consultation can be by phone, mail, email or videoconference, but patients do not need to be seen by the specialist. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has recognised the need to broaden access to treatment to reduce the burden of disease; therefore new DAAs will be available both on the General Schedule ('Section 85') and under the Section 100 (S100) Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) Program.
ASHM will provide training and resources to support GPs in prescribing the new interferon-free therapies.