GPs turning the tide of hepatitis C

Source: Medical Observer- 12 March 2013
Author: Professor Michael Kidd

THE bad news is hepatitis C is the leading cause of death from a blood-borne virus in Australia. More Australians die each year from hepatitis C than HIV/AIDS.

The good news is effective treatment is available and the range of options has increased. 

In February, Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek ann-ounced the listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of two new protease inhibitors (telaprevir and boceprevir) for treatment of chronic hepatitis C genotype 1. These medications, and others expected to be released soon, have the capacity to turn the tide of hepatitis C-related deaths if we can optimise community awareness and treatment access. There are important roles for GPs in making this happen.

To take advantage of new improved curative therapies hepatitis C patients need to be diagnosed, regularly monitored and referred when appropriate for consideration for treatment.