Media Release - World Hepatitis Day 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Territorians called to action for #nohep
Territorians are being urged to help eliminate viral hepatitis as an issue in their communities.
Speaking ahead of World Hepatitis Day (Friday 28 July), Paul Turner, Acting Executive Director of the Northern Territory AIDS & Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) said that the technology and tools now exist to lead us to the elimination of hepatitis C and hepatitis B – two potentially deadly blood-borne viruses that continue to affect more than 400,000 Australians.
Mr Turner said that Australia must take advantage of the opportunity to prevent and treat viral hepatitis and help prevent associated liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure.
“Game-changing hepatitis C treatments, an effective vaccine and treatments to prevent and control hepatitis B, and quick and painless diagnostic and liver-health tests are already available as we work towards elimination of these viruses. Yet we are in the unbelievable position whereby many people remain undiagnosed and only a small proportion are currently accessing and receiving the treatment they need” he said.
The Federal Government now provides affordable access to breakthrough antiviral medicines which can cure hepatitis C in just 12 weeks with few side-effects, yet many people living with the virus remain unaware treatment has changed dramatically and have not yet sought out a cure.
There is a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B, but more needs to be done to ensure it is made available within communities where the risk of exposure to the virus is high. This includes remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as communities where a large number of people have migrated from parts of Asia and Africa.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be stymied by unwarranted stigma, fear or embarrassment. Together, we can eliminate hepatitis B and C and help thousands of Australians to live a longer and healthier life free of hepatitis. As World Hepatitis Day approaches, let’s do all we can to inspire others and work towards an Australia with #nohep”, said Mr Turner.
World Hepatitis Day activities include:
Thursday 27 July: Information stall at Charles Darwin University organised by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Thursday 27 July: World Hepatitis Day Information Stall and giveaways in the Smith St Mall, Darwin.
Friday 28 July: Information Stall and Free Love Your Liver lunch on the Town Council Lawns, Alice Springs.
Saturday 29 July: World Hepatitis Day Love Your Liver lunch in the George Brown Botanic Gardens.
See NTAHC’s website for more details: http://www.ntahc.org.au/events
About hepatitis B
Approximately 232,600i Australians are living with chronic hepatitis B, a virus transmitted through blood-to-blood contact or unprotected sexual contact. Almost 40% of these people do not know they have hepatitis Bi.
While vaccination rates are high among people born in Australia, they remain low among many people born overseas. Hepatitis B is endemic in Asia Pacific and Africa and in some remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The best protection against hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. For those living with chronic hepatitis B, ongoing treatment and monitoring provides the best protection against the development of liver disease and liver cancer.
About hepatitis C
Approximately 227,306i Australians are living with chronic hepatitis C, a virus transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Approximately 1 in 6 Australians living with hepatitis C remain undiagnosed and may be at risk of developing severe liver diseaseii.
While there is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; Needle and syringe programs (NSPs) are at the forefront of Australia’s public health efforts to prevent the transmission of hepatitis C, most of which is acquired by sharing used injecting equipment. NSPs provide access to sterile injecting equipment and well as education and health promotion resources to help people change behaviours that put them at risk of acquiring hepatitis and other blood borne virus infections.
The hepatitis C infection can be treated, and now in most cases, cured. Unsafe injecting drug use continues to be the highest risk factor for contracting hepatitis C. It can also be contracted through unsafe tattooing and body piercing practices.
Since March 2016, new generation antiviral medications have been available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to treat and cure chronic hepatitis C. They are more effective, easier to take and have fewer side-effects than the older medications.
For more information, visit www.worldhepatitisday.org.au or call 1800 437 222
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