Australia has very good health surveillance systems compared to many other countries. Annual surveillance reports are published to inform responses and measure progress against targets of the National Blood-borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategies 2018-2022. Australia has committed to these national targets for 2022 and has signed on to World Health Organization global hepatitis elimination targets for 2030.

The following is a selection of key statistics drawn from the latest Australian surveillance data and where relevant cites the corresponding national targets.

Hepatitis B Statistics for Australia

In 2018 there was:

  • 226,612 people in Australia living with chronic hepatitis B
  • only an estimated 68% of those living with chronic hepatitis B diagnosed (target is 80% by 2022)
  • an estimated 428 deaths attributable to hepatitis B (target requires <328 in 2022)
  • only 22.5% of those with chronic hepatitis B receiving clinical care (target is 50% by 2022)
  • only 9% of people with chronic hepatitis B receiving antiviral therapy (target is 20% by 2022).

Hepatitis C Statistics for Australia

At the end of 2017 there was:

  • 182,144 people in Australia living with chronic hepatitis C
  • 10,537 notifications of hepatitis C in Australia and estimated 584 death attributable to hepatitis C during 2016-2017
  • 66 liver transplants due to chronic hepatitis C or hepatitis C‑related hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)
  • 21,370 people who received hepatitis C treatment and 20,302 (95% of those treated) were cured during 2017.

Between March 2016 and December 2018:

  • an estimated 70,260 people accessed new treatments for hepatitis.

Viral Hepatitis and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are disproportionately affected by hepatitis B, with considerable variation by geographic region.

  • In 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were estimated to make up 6.3% (around 14,277 individuals) of the 226,612 Australians living with chronic hepatitis B.
  • Indigenous Australians are much more likely to be affected by hepatitis B if they are living in remote (5.3% affected) and very remote (5.5% affected) regions compared with major cities (where 1.1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are affected).
  • For all populations in 2017, engagement in care (regular monitoring or antiviral treatment) and treatment uptake for people living with hepatitis B was highest in major cities (22.6% and 9.4% respectively) and lowest in remote regions (13.4% and 2.2%).
  • In 2017 childhood hepatitis B vaccination coverage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was 93% at 12 months and 97.5% at 24 months of age (compared with non-Indigenous Australians at 94.6% and 96.4% respectively).
  • Highlighting the importance of vaccination coverage, data suggest hepatitis B prevalence is 80% lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers born after 1988 (when childhood vaccination was introduced), compared with mothers born before 1988.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are also disproportionately affected by hepatitis C, with considerable variation by geographic region.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 3% of the Australian population, but at least 11% of newly reported cases of hepatitis C each year.
  • They report higher rates of risk factors for hepatitis C, including receptive sharing of injecting equipment and incarceration in corrections settings.
  • There is no current estimate of Indigenous hepatitis C population prevalence, although 2007 modelling estimated there were between 13,000 and 22,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with hepatitis C.
  • Infections in people aged under 25 years (which help estimate the number of recent infections across all ages) were six times higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (76.7 per 100,000 people) than for non-Indigenous people (12.2 per 100,000).
  • Whilst most people living with hepatitis C live in metropolitan areas, those living in rural and remote areas are more likely to have hepatitis C.
  • Access to treatment is approximately twice as high in urban and regional areas as it is in remote regions of Australia.

References


Page updated: 8 August 2019