Australian general practitioners (GPs) are global frontrunners in many aspects of health delivery, and are the world leaders in providing primary health care. We have been given an amazing opportunity to show this leadership through our management and elimination of hepatitis C in Australia.
Our access to direct acting antiviral (DAA) therapy in Australia is the envy of primary care physicians around the world. Because of this, we have a responsibility to ensure that the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is destined for the pages of the history book over the next decade.
However more needs to be done if we are to achieve the target of Hepatitis C elimination by 2030. With around 180,000 patients left to be treated, it falls to us the GPs to raise our game, keep our shoulders to the wheel and liberate our patients from the tyranny of Hepatitis C.
Currently only 10% of GPs in Australia have written a DAA script. Through this pledge we commit to raising this to 20% of GPs by 2020.
For people living with Hepatitis C, receiving treatment in familiar environments with their trusted, accessible, long-term doctors removes an important barrier to treatment and will improve the cascade of care. We acknowledge that HCV screening and treatment is now a routine part of the primary health care clinical domain. HCV management is core general practice work, sitting alongside diabetes, skin cancer and mental health.
Treatment in primary care is suitable for most people living with HCV, in particular those with mild–moderate liver fibrosis. Around 90% of patients with HCV have no evidence of cirrhosis. Yet currently only around 40% of the total number of DAA scripts are written by GPs, with the remainder being written by our non-primary care colleagues. The absolute number of patients with HCV treated by GPs has remained relatively stable since DAA introduction, with around 8,000 patients treated by GPs in 2017.
Through this pledge we commit to raising the proportion of DAA scripts being written by GPs to 75% by 2025.
In addition, we commit to raising the absolute number of patients with HCV being treated by GPs to more than 10,000 per year by 2025.
If elimination by 2030 is to be achieved, then it is up to us, the GPs of Australia, to stand up and heed the call to arms.
Primary Author: Dr Joss O'Loan | Contributors: Dr Anne Balcomb, Dr Samuel Elliott, Dr Belinda Greenwood-Smith, Dr Matt Penn, Professor Greg Dore
By entering your email address, you consent to be contacted by ASHM with sector news, scholarship opportunities, and invitations to educational events. You can opt out at any time. If you would prefer not to be receive any emails from ASHM please leave the email field blank.