Never a better time to tackle viral hepatitis

The new President of Hepatitis Australia has used her appointment to welcome the imminent availability of new breakthrough hepatitis C cures in Australia and urge people living with the deadly virus to speak to their doctor.

From 1 March, three groundbreaking hepatitis C therapies* which can cure hepatitis C in most people living with the virus will be subsidised through the PBS.

Incoming President of Hepatitis Australia and University of Queensland’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education) Professor Cindy Shannon said,“It is vital that everyone living with hepatitis C knows that there has never been a better time to seek treatment.

 “More people living with hepatitis C can be treated and cured than ever before, without enduring the side-effects of older treatment regimes,” Professor Shannon said.

Currently, only one per cent of people with hepatitis C is treated each year, leaving them at risk of developing serious liver disease including liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and liver failure.

New hepatitis C therapies have exceptionally high cure rates that exceed 90 per cent, shorter treatment durations and avoid the debilitating side-effects associated with existing therapies.

Professor Shannon said the rate of hepatitis C is five times higher inindigenous communities– with rates of hepatitis B disproportionately high – which points to the need for early detection and treatment in these communities to prevent serious liver disease.

 “My focus will be on ensuring Australians from all walks of life have access to information, support services and treatment for both hepatitis C and hepatitis B,” Professor Shannon said.

Hepatitis Australia CEO HelenTyrrell thanked the outgoing President Terry Higgins for hiscommitment and dedication and said the organisation looked forward to working with Professor Shannon.

“We are delighted to work with Professor Shannon to ensure all Australians living with chronic hepatitis benefit from new medical advances no matter where they live,” Ms Tyrrell said.

A descendent of the Ngugi people from Moreton Island, Professor Shannon was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education) at the University of Queensland in 2011. Previously Director of the Centre for Indigenous Health at The University of Queensland, Professor Shannon has played a key role in Indigenous health policy development and implementation.

*sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni), and daclatasvir (Daklinza).

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