(Michael Green, 2018)
In Western Australia, thousands of patients diagnosed with viral Hepatitis are not receiving treatment that could save lives and stop this malicious liver disease. This could be attributed to the patients being unaware of treatment options or their unwillingness to inquire about Hepatitis specific treatment plans.
Hepatitis WA CEO, Frank Farmer claims that 150,000 Australians living with hepatitis C have not partaken in curative hepatitis C treatments, despite the fact government funding is offered. Farmer also stated nearly 200,000 Australians clinically diagnosed with Hepatitis B are failing to engage in treatment intervention that could potentially prevent serious liver problems.
Hepatitis C virus is generally transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. However, it can be contracted from unsterile body piercing, medical and tattoo practices. Injecting drugs is another possible route of viral transmission and accounts for approximately 80% of the currently reported cases of chronic Hepatitis C infections.
Patients can be asymptomatic during the acute phase of these viruses and will become progressively worse if left untreated as the duration of the infection persists. Thus, accessing timely information and receiving clinical management could greatly benefit infected patients.
There is no preventative vaccine for Hepatitis C. Anti-viral medications have been subsidized under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and made available to treat and cure chronic Hepatitis C. These medications have shown a high success rate after three months and patients experienced few side-effects. Thousands of Australians have been cured to date, and medical professionals strongly advise patients to discuss treatment options with their general practitioner and consider a management plan.
Similarly to Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood to blood contact and bodily fluids.
Mr Farmer announced concerns that a significant number of people with Hepatitis B virus are missing out on medical care. One-third of people infected with chronic Hepatitis B in Australia remain undiagnosed. Surprisingly, only 12 per cent of Australians that are aware they suffer from hepatitis B are receiving antiviral treatment. Statistics reveal this virus is more common in communities when a large percentile of the population has not been vaccinated.
Thus, it would be advised for the general public to be vaccinated against the Hepatitis B antigen. This vaccine has been made readily available through the national immunisation program. Regular consults and clinical management of Hepatitis is strongly recommended as this will reduce your chances of further medical problems arising such as chronic active Hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and carcinomas of the liver.
Further information can be acquired by speaking to your general practitioner or contacting Hepatitis WA on 08 9328 8538.