Researchers say: No more hepatitis C in Australia by 2026
According to a report published by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, the eradication of hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia is in sight. Over 30,000 people were treated for the disease last year, and the cure rate has risen from 10% to nearly 100% in the past two decades.
Researchers credit the federal government's aggressive eradication strategy. New antiviral treatments such as the powerful drug Zepatier are expensive, and in most countries access is limited to those who already have advanced liver disease. In Australia, the federal government has made treatments, including Zepatier, available to all patients on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. "Whether you've got major liver damage, or no significant liver damage, you can come forward and access treatment,” said the Kirby Institute's Professor Greg Dore.
Some other aspects of the government strategy to eradicate HCV include introducing better treatment programs in methadone clinics and prisons and raising awareness among affected by hepatitis C about new, more effective therapies.
While new treatments have played a significant part in Australia's success, Professor Dore added that the role of prevention strategies that have been in place for decades, such as providing access to clean injection supplies, should not be underestimated.