Let's talk about Hep C

GettyImages 895145516

Primary care providers are being encouraged to continue to "find the missing millions".

With effective treatment available to manage Hepatitis B and cure Hepatitis C, primary care providers have a vital role in eliminating Viral Hepatitis in Australia. Primary care providers are being encouraged to continue to "find the missing millions". 

Universal access to direct‐acting antiviral (DAA) medication for hepatitis C virus (HCV) places Australia in a unique position to reach global HCV elimination goals. HCV is now easy to treat and cure as DAA therapies for HCV are highly effective and are well tolerated. However, in NSW it is estimated 62% of people living with HCV still need to be treated. To achieve elimination, increasing the case finding of HCV and the prescribing of DAA treatment in GP settings is essential.

Some new strategies to support easier initiation of HCV treatment have been implemented in the past year. The recent changes include:

  • removal of the PBS requirement to document HCV genotype before prescribing pan-genotypic treatment regimens for HCV
  • removal of the PBS requirement that patients be aged 18 years or older before prescribing treatment for HCV (should be done in collaboration with an HCV experienced paediatrician).

In NSW, many GPs have embraced HCV prescribing. From July 2018 to June 2019, GPs initiated 1,918 NSW residents on HCV treatment. This was equal to 52% of all HCV treatment initiations in NSW during this period.

For most people living with HCV, receiving treatment from their GPs removes significant barriers to alternate care. It also gives GPs a major role in HCV elimination and in the prevention of cirrhosis and liver cancer in Australia.

In the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), hospital and community medical, nursing and health promotion teams are eager to support GP screening and prescribing for HCV.  

Updated HCV treatment information is available (including in multiple languages):

To support GPs, ISLHD has made available FREE “Hep C – treatment has never been easier” resources, which will be forwarded to your surgery in coming weeks. Should you require more please contact dianne.woods@health.nsw.gov.au or phone (02) 4254 2700.

For support in the Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, please contact Adele.Hampson@health.nsw.gov.au