On World Hepatitis Day, Australia remains on track to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.
The Morrison Government is investing more than $45 million in five National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections strategies-including hepatitis B and C-to save lives and protect lives.
Hepatitis is preventable, treatable, and in the case of hepatitis C, curable. It is critically important to diagnose and treat hepatitis C early to avoid the risk of serious liver disease, including liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to subsidise new medicines for all eligible Australians who have chronic hepatitis C.
By the end of 2018, around 130,000 people in Australia were living with chronic hepatitis C and more than 226,000 Australians were living with chronic hepatitis B.
Since 2016, through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Government has invested in revolutionary new Direct Acting Antiviral (DAA) medicines which cures hepatitis C.
The Morrison Government has invested more than $1 billion to fund these new hepatitis C medicines through the PBS and by the end of 2019, approximately 85,000 people living with chronic hepatitis C in Australia had received DAA treatment.
In addition, in May 2020, a point of care (PoC) test for hepatitis C was added to the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
This test provides a result in a couple of hours, rather than waiting a couple of days. It will increase testing rates, and provide better treatment uptake.
An effective vaccine to prevent hepatitis B is available and free under the Government’s National Immunisation Program. Infants, children, young adults and refugees are all eligible to receive the vaccine.
Treatments for chronic hepatitis B, which can prevent or delay liver disease and improve survival, are also available on the PBS.
We know that more than half of the population living with chronic hepatitis B, and who would benefit from treatment, are not currently receiving treatment.
I encourage people who need help, treatment or support to reach out to your health professional and access life-changing medicines.
Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.