Despite the focus on Covid, hepatitis can’t wait

While the focus remains largely on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, 28 July marked World Hepatitis Day 2021, with this year’s theme, ‘Hepatitis can’t wait’, conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, even throughout the current Covid-19 crisis.

It’s said that viral hepatitis doesn’t care about other health crises. Left unchecked both hep B and hep C will continue to find new people to infect and continue to damage the livers of those already living with the viruses.

The good news is that recent changes to Medicare mean Australians can have access to management, care and treatment of hep B or treatment and cure of hep C from the comfort, privacy and safety of their own home using telehealth.

Even testing for hep C can be done at home using a free Dried Blood Spot (DBS) test kit ordered from dbstest.helath.nsw.gov.au

“Advances have been made in Australia and New South Wales on many fronts for both hep B and hep C,” says Hepatitis NSW CEO, Steven Drew.

“While much has been achieved through the combined and concerted efforts of community health organisations, clinicians, health departments, and researchers, we all agree that there is still much to be done to meet elimination targets in this country.”

In NSW, World Hepatitis Day falls within Hepatitis Awareness Week, which runs from 26-31 July.

The week includes a range of local and state-wide activities, events, and initiatives to improve population outcomes for both hep B and hep C.

“A key activity this year is the rollout of HEP CURED, a campaign using simple messaging and strong imagery to promote the availability and effectiveness of cures for hepatitis C,” continues Mr Drew.

“The core message of the campaign instils a sense of connection with loved ones, or significant others.”

For information about “the treatment options available or about hepatitis generally”, Mr Drew encourages people to contact the Hepatitis NSW Infoline on 1800 803 990 along with using the online chat function on hep.org.au.

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