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Murrumbidgee Local Area Health District’s HIV and Programs Manager Alison Nikitas said the number of Australians with Hepatitis C-related liver disease has doubled in just over ten years, yet only 14 per cent of sufferers are getting treatment.“For people who know they have Hepatitis C, there’s no reason why they cannot be living Hepatitis C free by this time next year,” Ms Nikitas said.It’s a far cry from previous treatments, which had harsh side effects and a low cure rate.Picture: Sylvia Liber Bill Lenane is living life hepatitis C free thanks to a revolutionary new treatment, and wishes more people would take advantage of it.The 61-year-old Bulli man was one of the first to trial direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs after they were listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in March 2016.It is World Hepatitis C Day and experts in Wagga are using July 28 to highlight the major treatment changes, which can effectively cure the condition in eight-to-12 weeks.
As such, hepatitis C is not usually included in standard Australian STI screening unless the patient meets any of these risk factors or if they specifically ask for it.
“Now is the time for those people to talk to their health care provider about the new treatments,” Ms Nikitas said.
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Within six weeks the virus could no longer be detected in his blood, and he’s now clear of the life-threatening disease.
He’s become a volunteer for Hepatitis NSW, and is helping spread the message that there is a cure during Hepatitis Awareness Week.‘’Since the new antivirals were included on the PBS about 38,000 people have been cured of the virus,’’ Mr Lenane said, ‘’but people getting tested and treated has now fallen dramatically.