Some of Australia’s greatest 80s rock artists will perform Thursday October 8 at a special event to raise awareness of Hepatitis C.
Rick Grossman from the Hoodoo Gurus will be joined by James Reyne from Australian Crawl, Rob Hirst and Martin Rotsey from Midnight Oil, and Peter and Chris O’Doherty (Reg Mombassa) from Mental as Anything to play some 80s classics for an audience of community activists and specialists at Taronga Park Zoo.
The theme of the concert is ‘The 80s may be dead but Hep C isn’t’.
‘’The 80’s were the hey-day of sex drugs and rock and roll. For many, those days may be over but hepatitis C lives on,’’ Grossman explained.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which if left untreated can lead to liver disease, liver cancer and death. People can be infected for decades without showing any symptoms.
Hepatitis C has long been a concern for the gay, bi and MSM communities, but the organisers of tomorrow’s event say baby boomers who experimented with injecting drugs, tattoos or piercings in the 70s and 80s are also at very high risk.
‘’We have the tools to end hepatitis C. We just need people to access them,’’ said Nikki Cavenagh, the event organiser.
‘’We want to get the message out: if you have ever dabbled with injecting drugs, even once, or have tattoos and piercings from the 70s or the 80s, please go get tested. It’s easy and it could save your life.’’
The event is part of the fourth International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users being held in Sydney this week.
Until now, treatments for Hepatitis C have been lengthy and toxic, but a new class of medications has been developed which can cure the disease in 12 weeks with no side effects.
These medications are not yet on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) although a recent recommendation was made by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
Annie Madden, Executive Officer of the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) said stigma, discrimination and criminalisation were barriers to people with Hepatitis C accessing treatment.
“The Australian government needs to act immediately to approve these new interferon-free therapies or more people will die of entirely preventable liver disease due to hepatitis C,” she said.