Hepatitis C: For healthcare professionals
Hepatitis is a disease or inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus which is transmitted through blood to blood contact.
Find information for the public (symptoms, treatment, diagnosis and prevention).
New direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapies for hepatitis C are now available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). These are highly effective and well tolerated drugs, and this represents a major medical advance for the treatment of this condition.
This treatment is more accessible:
- DAAs may be prescribed by specialists experienced in treating hepatitis C or by general practitioners and nurse practitioners either in consultation with one of these specialists or independently if suitable experienced in hepatitis C treatment.
- The treatment is now available on the PBS as both s85 and s100.
Until recently, treatment for hepatitis C could take as long as 6 to 12 months and the treatments had some side effects. The new treatments are simpler, of shorter duration and have less side effects.
Read more about:
- The Australian recommendations for the management of hepatitis C virus infection (Consensus statement)
- PBS hepatitis C medicines for community-based prescribers
The new treatment provides many benefits over previous treatments, including:
- a cure rate of 95 per cent
- a shorter period of treatment (8, 12 or 24 weeks)
- ease of use – less tablets
- fewer side effects.
Queensland Health awareness campaign
The We need to talk about Hep C campaign aims to encourage testing among high-risk community groups and people aged 40-60, following a new, simpler treatment with a 95% cure rate becoming available on the PBS. If left untreated, the disease can cause cirrhosis, liver damage, cancer and occasionally death. With a more effective and more accessible treatment now available, it's important to share the news, especially among at risk groups.
Queensland health professionals can support the We need to talk about Hep C campaign by encouraging testing of:
- people who may have undertaken high-risk activities such as:
- injecting drugs
- getting home piercings or backyard tattoos
- engaging in sexual acts or other physical activity that involved blood to blood contact.
- people who have been in prison
- people aged 40-60 (who may have been exposed many years ago without knowing it)
- people who have had a blood transfusion before 1990
- people who have had a medical or dental procedure in the developing world
- anyone who has ever had an abnormal liver test
- immigrants from areas with a high prevalence of hepatitis C. See Global epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection information provided by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- people born to a mother with hepatitis C.
It is also possible to spread hepatitis C through contaminated razors and other personal hygiene equipment.
Health professionals can support the campaign by educating and encouraging patients who fall into the target groups to be tested for hepatitis C.