Hepatitis C treatment in Murray Bridge

Source: The Murray Valley Standard  Author:  Emmalie Balnaves-Gale

Murraylands doctors are pioneering the distribution of a ground-breaking new treatment for hepatitis C.

As part of a national pilot program, local GPs will be among the first in the nation to trial administering the cure to local patients.

Doctors around the Murraylands region were invited to attend a Hepatitis SA forum in Murray Bridge this month to learn about the new treatment.

Doctor Peter Seals, as coordinator of continuing medical procedure at Bridge Clinic, attended the forum and said he had a particular interested in the project.

“At the clinic, I commonly treat people with substance addiction, which is a group commonly impacted by hepatitis C,” he said. “However, it is not limited to that group as its a blood-borne virus.”

He said the forum was well-received and the project was great for local patients and the entire community.

“The new treatment is a very simple oral medication, is far more acceptable for patients and is low in side effects.”

“I’ve seen some of my patients access it through a specialist and they’ve been cured for good.”

He said treatment of old proved to be far too complex.

“Many patients opted to not undergo treatment in the past because of potential side effects and the lengthy complicated process,” he said.

“For doctors in the past, we’d give a patient bad news about carrying hepatitis C and then couldn’t do anything to help.”

With the hepatitis C project still in early days, Dr Seals said it would be a learning curve for local doctors.

“We’ve had a look at how many hep C patients we have to figure out who we can get in touch with and see which patients are interested in accessing treatment,” he said.

“Patients can come talk to us to find out who is eligible as some may not be and those who are not may need to see a specialist.”

Dr Seals said Hepatitis SA would return to the clinic in the coming weeks to assist with managing the project.

“This project is a learning process, backed by specialists in Adelaide,” he said.

The pilot project, led by Hepatitis SA, was brought to Murray Bridge at the beginning of March in the effort to stop the spread of viral hepatitis.

As a result, Murray Bridge could be the first town in the world to completely eliminate hepatitis C.

"The new treatment is a simple oral medication and is low in side effects... I’ve seen some of my patients access it through a specialist and they’ve been cured for good"- Dr Peter Seals