Coronavirus and Hepatitis

What are the risks of coronavirus COVID-19 for people living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C? People with weakened immune systems (e.g. people on immune suppressing medications, people receiving cancer treatments), older people especially those aged over 70 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with chronic medical conditions are particularly at risk from the effects of COVID-19.

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Keep Calm and Carry Naloxone

Most accidental overdoses in Australia—especially South Australia—are from prescription drugs, mainly painkillers and sleeping tablets. Many of these deaths can be prevented with a drug that reverses the effects of opioids.

From 1 December 2019 to February 2021, South Australia is taking part in a PBS-subsidised pilot program to reduce opioid-related deaths by making the life-saving medicine, naloxone, available to more people.

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“I’ll have hep C treatment eventually.”

Competing priorities for people who inject drugs

Opioid substitution treatment (OST) clinics are considered ideal locations for providing treatment for people with chronic hepatitis C virus infection who inject drugs, a vital priority group for achieving the goal of HCV elimination. But despite the availability of highly effective treatments with relatively few side effects, treatment uptake is yet to reach the level needed to achieve elimination.

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Talk to a Nurse

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.

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Hepatitis B Screening for People Receiving Cancer Therapy

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.

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Hepatitis B – the neglected epidemic

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.

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