Hepatitis Australia’s Policy Series: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

The Hepatitis Australia Policy Series analyses each of the targets in the Third National Hepatitis B and Fifth National Hepatitis C Strategies. The targets, which are included in the suite of National Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Strategies 2018-2022 identify the progress required to keep us on track for achieving the agreed, global viral hepatitis elimination goals by 2030.  

Each policy brief below describes the current situation and makes the case for a range of recommendations to address factors inhibiting progress. The Policy Series will be periodically updated for currency and to respond to progress and other developments.

Hepatitis Australia works in partnership with affected communities, other national peak organisations, jurisdictional member organisations, the clinical workforce, researchers and the government to develop and monitor the implementation of bold and congruent National Strategies Implementation Plans. This supports a high quality, evidence based and equitable response to hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Australia.

You can download the following Policy Briefs to learn more about the current situation and what more needs to be done.

Policy Brief 1: National Strategies’ Hepatitis C Diagnosis Target

photo of man leaning over carpentry.Increasing the proportion of people living with hepatitis C who are fully diagnosed to 90 per cent by 2022 requires access to the best testing technologies and modalities, as well as effective engagement with a marginalised, often hard to reach, heterogeneous population with stigmatising historic or current risk factors. Without diagnosis, the medical interventions and chronic disease self-management options capable of preventing or arresting the development of serious liver disease are not possible.

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Policy Brief 2: National Strategies’ Hepatitis B Childhood Vaccination Coverage Target

photo of aboriginal woman and child

The achievement and maintenance to-date of high level hepatitis B childhood vaccination coverage in Australia is a success story. Given current progress, achieving the target of 95 per cent coverage at 24 months is very likely in 2022. Vaccination coverage at 12 months requires some further work, however meeting this aspect of the target is within reach with ongoing effort and continued commitment.

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Policy Brief 3: National Strategies’ Hepatitis B Diagnosis Target

photo of two men doing Tai Chi

Progress towards the hepatitis B diagnosis target of 80 per cent by 2022 is slow, with an estimated 67.6 per cent of affected individuals diagnosed in 2017. At the current rate of change Australia will not reach the 2022 target of 80 per cent until 2033. A sustained effort and further investment is required, in addition to removing barriers to engagement and uptake of testing.

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Policy Brief 4: National Strategies’ Hepatitis C Prevention Targets

young man standing beside his car

Achieving the 2022 hepatitis C prevention targets (60 per cent reduction in newly acquired infections and an increase in the use of sterile injecting equipment) is challenging but possible with the right policy settings and adequate levels of investment. Despite an important focus on antiviral treatment in recent years, prevention remains a critical component of the response to hepatitis C and access to sterile injecting equipment is paramount.

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Policy Brief 5: National Strategies’ Hepatitis C Treatment Target

woman hold coffee and looking down.

After a very successful period in the early months following Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listing of direct acting antiviral treatments for hepatitis C, progress is stalling towards the target of 65 per cent of people with hepatitis C having initiated treatment by the end of 2022. Meeting this target is feasible but challenging and necessitates a sustained correction in the downward trend of monthly treatment initiations.

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Policy Brief 6: National Strategies’ Hepatitis B Clinical Management Target

young man of unknown nationality looking at the camera

Achieving the clinical management target of 50 per cent of people living with chronic hepatitis B receiving care in 2022 requires a dramatic improvement in all aspects of the national response to hepatitis B. This is challenging and requires a sustained increase in effort and investment, in addition to addressing barriers to engagement and uptake of testing.

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Page updated 29 November 2019.