Far West LHD urges test, vaccinate and treat
It is World Hepatitis Day on Thursday (28 July) and the hepatitis treatment landscape has changed dramatically in recent months. Effective treatment options are available for hepatitis C and everyone who may be at risk is urged to consider a hepatitis test in the interests of their long-term health.
While there is currently no Hepatitis C vaccine available, there is excellent news with new treatments approved on the PBS in March this year that have a cure rate of more than 90%, a game changer for those that have been living with the virus.
Hepatitis B, Australia’s leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation, can be prevented with a vaccine. For those that have the virus, with effective treatment options available, knowing your status could significantly impact upon your future health.
The news is not all good however; as many of those living with the virus do not know they have it. Thankfully, quick and effective blood tests are available and increasingly treatment options can be managed through your local GP in the majority of cases.
“Many people aren’t aware of the risks associated with hepatitis B and C transmission,” said Jo Lenton, Viral Hepatitis Nurse, Far West Local Health District.
“Travel to high prevalence countries without vaccination, unregulated home or overseas tattooing, sharing injecting equipment, and even seemingly benign everyday practices can put you at risk of transmission if blood to blood contact is involved. The best way to be sure is to test, vaccinate for hepatitis B if you haven’t already and treat if appropriate.”
The great news is that treatments are better than ever and getting easier all the time. “Gone are the old days of months of gruelling treatment with no guaranteed results,” said Ms Lenton. “For hepatitis C in particular it’s a very exciting time to see how quickly and easily it can change a person’s health.”
World Hepatitis Day (July 28), is an excellent opportunity to come together as a community and start a conversation on testing, treating and preventing the spread of hepatitis in our towns.
To raise awareness of hepatitis and the new treatment options available, events are happening around the region to promote testing and link people to local services.
Broken Hill: World Hepatitis Day will be promoted in the Broken Hill Hospital foyer on Thursday, 28 July with a display and information available from 9.30am to 1pm. Staff will be present with information and advice and a barbecue will be held
Dareton: An information display for World Hepatitis Day will be set up in the Dareton Primary and Community Health Centre.
These events are open to the public, where anyone is welcome to come and chat to a local Hepatitis Nurse about your level of risk, testing and what you can do to protect your health. Consider getting a hepatitis test today. Tests can be arranged by contacting the local Viral Hepatitis Clinic at the Broken Hill Hospital on 8080 1554 and asking for Jo, Jane or Liz.