A new report from the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute says hepatitis C is set to be eliminated from Australia within the next ten years.
The report says more people are being treated for the condition, and new treatment options are now subsidised, making them more affordable.
Professor Dave Gore from the Kirby Institute said that through new treatment hep C would no longer be an issue.
“Australia has achieved one of the most rapid uptakes of treatment worldwide and has a unique opportunity to eliminate major infectious disease,” he said.
Joel from Melbourne lives with HIV and was diagnosed with hep C in 2010, when he was 26.
“I was in complete shock,” said Joel. “Living with HIV and a compromised immune system meant I was more susceptible to contracting the hepatitis C virus.”
Joel suffered side effects from the hep C treatment, and withdrew from both his professional and social life.
“The stigma of living with two diseases and the fear of rejection began to severely affect my mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.
Last year, Joel underwent treatment with a newer drug, and has been cured of hep C.
“While I will remain forever grateful for finishing treatment, I will not be completely satisfied until all Australians living with hepatitis C are able to clear the virus,” he said.
“It’s such an exciting time, but there’s still so much more to be done in order to achieve this goal.”
John Didlick of Hepatitis ACT said the elimination of hep C won’t be possible without changes.
“It is uplifting that people are speaking about hepatitis C in terms of elimination,” he said.
“However, elimination won’t be viable while we still have an over-reliance on specialists to provide the treatment, no regulated needle and syringe program in prisons, and large numbers of undiagnosed people.”
Around a quarter of a million Australians have chronic hep C, and about 15 per cent are undiagnosed.