July 28, 2021
Effort stepped up to eliminate Hep C
It’s World Hepatitis Day and the Government has released its plan to eliminate hepatitis C in New Zealand.
Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall says about 45,000 New Zealanders have hepatitis C, but only half know they have it.
Symptoms often don't appear until much of the damage has been done.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in New Zealand, and the second leading cause of liver cancer – behind hepatitis B.
Dr Verrall says a new drug, Maviret has been a real game-changer as it can potentially cure 98 percent of people with chronic hepatitis C with fewer side effects than previous treatments, but funding drugs alone won't achieve elimination.
Health authorities need to find everyone who is at risk or has hepatitis C, offer them a test and treat them.
The Action Plan includes developing a national awareness campaign,
- Increasing access to testing through more nurse-led clinics and point of care testing delivered in the community, and through mobile clinics
- and Developing a surveillance system and virtual registry that will connect diagnosed cases with the treatment they need
There will also be an increase in the distribution of free injecting equipment to people who inject drugs, to focus on hepatitis C prevention and reducing new infections.
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