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New hepatitis B report shows only 13% are receiving guideline-based care.

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The second report from the national hepatitis B mapping project uses national datasets to indicate the current level of diagnosis, monitoring and treatment for hepatitis B.

Massive Hepatitis B Impact on Liver Cancer

A new report about hepatitis B in Australia will be released today to coincide with World Cancer Day.

For the first time, national datasets are used to indicate the current level of diagnosis, monitoring and treatment, as well as vaccination rates and outcomes of infection.

The second national report to be produced from Hepatitis B Mapping project has found that only 57 per cent of people living with hepatitis B have been diagnosed. Alarmingly, only 13 per cent are receiving adequate guideline-based care.

"There are an estimated 218,000 people living with chronic hepatitis B," said Associate Professor Benjamin Cowie, one of the report's authors.

"Without appropriate management and treatment, up to a quarter of them will develop advanced liver disease and/or liver cancer."

Liver cancer is now the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, it also has one of the lowest survival rates.

The Australian Government released its National Hepatitis B Strategy last year for 2014-2017. The Strategy set clear targets for diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, access to care, and immunisation.

"The national hepatitis B strategy sets a target to increase the proportion of people living with chronic hepatitis B who are receiving antiviral treatment to 15 per cent. It's currently five per cent. Increasing uptake of treatment is a means to achieving a significant and sustained reduction in mortality attributable to advanced liver disease and liver cancer."

The report serves as a benchmark against which progress in achieving the national priorities can be assessed. It provides detailed information at a national, state/territory and local area.

The first national hepatitis B mapping report highlighted the geographically uneven distribution of chronic hepatitis B across Australia, outlining areas of the country to be prioritised for programmatic responses for hepatitis B.

"As the priority populations affected by chronic hep B are subject to broader health disparities, the report allows for awareness and intervention campaigns to be targeted in the most direct and appropriate ways. Our aim is for it to be used for public health planning." said A/Professor Cowie.

The aim is for an updated report to be released every year to monitor and evaluate the progress of Australia's response to hepatitis B.

The National Hepatitis B Mapping Reports are the result of a partnership between the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) and the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL). Funding was from the Australia Department of Health.

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For interviews, please contact:

Vanessa Towell

Hepatitis Program Manager

Tel: +61 2 8204 0762 | Fax: +61 2 8204 0782 | E-mail: Vanessa.Towell@ashm.org.au

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Further information:

  • Download the second National Hepatitis B Mapping Report
  • Download the first National Hepatitis B Mapping Report

About Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. There are two stages of infection: acute and chronic. Acute infection can be cleared from the body naturally. When the infection has been present for longer than six months, it becomes known as Chronic hepatitis B (CHB). CHB can lead to liver damage, liver cancer and liver failure.

About ASHM

The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) is a peak organisation of health professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections.

About VIDRL

VIDRL is a leading Australian infectious diseases reference laboratory located in Melbourne, Victoria. It has WHO Regional Reference Laboratory designations for poliovirus, measles and hepatitis B, and is a WHO National Influenza Centre.

About the Authors

Benjamin Cowie MBBS, PhD, FRACP, is an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist, WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for Hepatitis B, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Melbourne, Victoria

Jennifer MacLachlan MSc(Epid), is an epidemiologist, WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for Hepatitis B, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Melbourne, Victoria

 

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