Very rarely are we in a situation where we have the opportunity to cure a chronic condition. Since 1 March 2016, new-generation and radically improved treatments are offering the 65,000 Victorians currently living with hepatitis C a new future free of the condition. With a cure rate of 95-97%, these new treatments are a major advance in the fight against viral hepatitis, a leading cause of liver cancer in Victoria.
To prepare for this once-in-a-generation treatment opportunity, the Victorian Government has established the Hepatitis C Elimination Working Group. This group brings together professionals from across the primary, secondary and acute healthcare sectors, as well as researchers and affected communities. The aim of the group is to ensure all Victorians living with hepatitis C are able to access the new drugs as quickly as possible.
The group has been building and strengthening pathways between primary and tertiary care and increasing access to screening and diagnosis. It has been facilitating training for nurses, general practitioners and pharmacists on the new treatments. Crucially, it has also been engaging with priority populations to support testing and offer treatment. This has included directly addressing the stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with hepatitis C, which are known barriers to people accessing treatment for the condition.
Working together, this group has supported a re-orientation of care from the hospital system to the community, ensuring people with hepatitis C have access to these lifesaving medicines where and when they need them.
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