People most affected by hepatitis C welcome launch of the National Hepatitis C Strategy 2005 – 2008

“People most affected by hepatitis C welcome launch of the National Hepatitis C Strategy 2005 – 2008”

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) the national organisation representing those most affected by hepatitis C welcomes the launch of the 2nd National Hepatitis C Strategy by the Hon Tony Abbott MP, Minister for Health and Ageing in Sydney today.

Ms. Annie Madden, AIVL’s Executive Officer stated, “The launch of this important strategy will allow us to build on our successes and ensures that Australia remains committed and focused to the challenges posed by hepatitis C”.

Currently an estimated 242,000 Australians are living with hepatitis C, which continues to be one of the most commonly reported notifiable infectious diseases in Australia. Projections of people living with hepatitis C, while uncertain, estimate that in 2020, between 321,000 – 836,000 people will be living with the virus.

Ms. Madden continued, “The strategy’s focus on reducing transmission, reducing the burden of disease and increasing understanding of the virus and risk factors is critical. We are also pleased to see an ongoing commitment to harm reduction and the firm partnerships cemented through the previous strategy including a focus on valuing the role of the affected community”.

Prevention of transmission, management of symptoms, access to treatment and discrimination and stigma are some of the complex issues that people who inject drugs have to manage in relation to hepatitis C. Many people who inject drugs are also often coping with a range of other pressing health and social issues which can prevent them from being able to prioritise dealing with hepatitis C.

“This is indeed a comprehensive strategy that has the capacity to address the complex health needs of people who inject drugs in relation to hepatitis C however; effective implementation of the strategy is going to take commitment from all parts of the hepatitis C partnership. AIVL welcomes the introduction of a strategy implementation plan to ensure that we maximise the outcomes of the strategy”. Ms. Madden commented.

Ultimately however, the strategy will only be truly successful if there is sufficient funding. The current Federal Government funding for hepatitis C prevention and education ends in 2007 and we call on the Government to ensure that adequate future funding is available to make the promise of this strategy a reality for people affected by hepatitis C. 

Many countries follow Australia’s lead in relation to hepatitis C, this strategy reinforces our status as world leaders. “Hepatitis C is an issue for us all. We need to build on our partnerships, collaborations and commitment to tackling hepatitis C head on. There is no time for complacency if we want to gain control over an epidemic that is affecting a large and growing number of people within the Australian community” concluded Ms Madden.

 

Media Contact: Annie Madden, AIVL Executive Officer on ph: (02) 6279 1600 or mobile: 0414 628 136.