South Australia’s Viral Hepatitis Nurses are clinical practice consultants who work with patients in the community, general practice or hospital setting. They provide a link between public hospital specialist services and general practice, and give specialised support to general practitioners (GPs) to assist in the management of patients with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
An Australian expert panel of medical specialists have recommended that all people receiving immunosuppression cancer therapy be screened for hepatitis B.
If you have ever been infected by hepatitis B, cancer treatment which suppresses your immune system can allow the virus to reactivate – even if your body had dealt with it successfully before. Reactivation can lead to liver failure, death or sub-optimal cancer treatment.
Close to 234,000 Australians live with chronic hepatitis B—one of the leading causes of liver cancer—and almost four out of ten don’t know they have the condition. It is even more alarming in South Australia, where six out of ten are not diagnosed1.
Hepatitis B diagnosis rate in Australia remains stagnant at around 63 per cent from 2015 to 2017, and our treatment rate of 8.3 per cent falls far short of the recommended 20 per cent of people with chronic hepatitis B estimated to need treatment. In this respect too, South Australia lags with a treatment uptake of only 5.7 per cent—and only 16 per cent of those with chronic hepatitis B being monitored, well below the national average of 20.2 per cent2.
Virologist Connor Bamford and Professor John McLauchlan, both of the University of Glasgow, explain to the Hepatitis SA Community News how their research shows that not all people are equally vulnerable to hepatitis C.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects around 1per cent of the human population and is a devastating pathogen. In most people, it silently infects the liver for decades, and can cause life-threatening inflammation, scarring and even cancer. How the virus achieves this feat has long puzzled scientists.
New national guidelines endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council have been released in January 2019 for healthcare workers who perform exposure-prone procedures, and for healthcare workers living with a blood-borne virus (BBV).
These are the Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Healthcare Workers Living with Blood Borne Viruses and Healthcare Workers who Perform Exposure Prone Procedures at Risk of Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses.
Even in a country like Australia, with a high standard of living and a socialised health system, the battle to eliminate hepatitis can be challenging. So what is it like in a country like India, where poverty, population pressures and lack of health funding and education make every medical challenge so much harder?
Dr Sunil Solomon is Associate Professor of Medicine at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He spoke at the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Adelaide about his work on eliminating HCV among people in India who inject drugs.