National Hepatitis C Treatments Awareness Week Launch

National Hepatitis C Treatments Awareness Week Launch

The first National Hepatitis C Treatments Awareness Week is being launched by the Federal Minister for Health & Ageing, Tony Abbott at Parliament House on Wednesday 25th May 2005.

Ms Annie Madden the Executive Officer of the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) which is the peak national organisation representing the people most affected by hepatitis C states that “while it is important to raise general awareness in relation to hepatitis C within the community, there is still a great deal more work to be done to ensure that those most affected by hepatitis C understand the treatment options available to them.”

“Like all serious health conditions, the way that people receive their hepatitis C diagnosis is critical to the way that they view their condition and their future options including treatment. In some cases people are being told that they “only have hepatitis C which is not that serious” and then we wonder why we are having trouble getting people to think about hepatitis C treatment” Ms Madden added.

The Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League is concerned that as the group most affected by hepatitis C, people who inject drugs are not being sufficiently encouraged to think about hepatitis C treatment or provided with the type of information and support necessary to make such a major decision.

“Undertaking hepatitis C treatment is a major life decision. It can involve severe side-effects for many people and serious disruption to daily routines, work and family commitments. People who inject drugs are often not in the position to consider a treatment that will potentially cause major disruption to their lives” Ms Madden said.

AIVL believes that we need to develop service models that can support even the most marginalised people living with chronic hepatitis C infection to access treatment. Many people who inject drugs have experienced routine discrimination at the hands of the health system. It should come as no surprise then that this group is going to be extremely wary when it comes to agreeing to undertake a form of treatment that requires an extremely supportive clinical environment” Ms Madden stated.

In the past few years there have been some major improvements in the effectiveness of hepatitis C treatment with upwards of 50% of those treated with combination therapy continuing to test negative following treatment.

“The improvements in treatment effectiveness are indeed a good news story in relation to hepatitis C but we need to be careful that we don’t become too focused on perfecting the treatment and forget to make sure that the treatment is accessible to those who are most affected.” added Ms Madden.

For further comment contact Ms Annie Madden, Executive Officer on ph: (02) For further comment contact Ms Annie Madden, Executive Officer on ph: (02) 6279 1600.