October 21, 2022
Māori focus will help eliminate hep C
A national symposium on hepatitis C has heard Māori prioritisation is key to eliminating the virus.
Community service and health providers from across the motu gathered this week at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium to share updates and reflections on hep C in Aotearoa.
The Health Ministry’s national hepatitis C action plan has set a target of 2030 to eliminate the blood borne virus that causes liver inflammation and can lead to liver cancer if left untreated.
Waikato Hospital gasenterologist Clarence Kerrison says the plan needed to focus on building whanaungatanga and trust, inclusion of Māori from the start of the process, understanding biases, and giving more resources to Māori patients over non-Māori.
Action plan programme manager Gavin Hooper-Newton says the plan will not only help eliminate hep C, but it could also provide the health sector with a framework to apply to other pressing health issues such as hepatitis B, diabetes, and HIV.
About 45,000 New Zealanders are living with the virus, and half of them may be unaware they have it due to symptoms not showing for years, or even decades in some cases.
Risk factors for hep C include drug use with needles, amateur tattoos, time in prison, receiving medical treatment in a high-risk country, a blood transfusion before 1992, or been born to a mother with hep C.
It can now be treated with the prescription medicine Maviret, with most people cured within eight weeks.