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Health Minister Confirms Standalone Viral Hepatitis B and C Strategies

6 April 2016

 

Victorian Minister for Health confirms standalone strategies to tackle viral hepatitis 

More than 120,000 Victorians are set to benefit from the recent announcement by the Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, that Victoria will develop separate strategies for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

The strategies are currently being finalised drawing from the input received from stakeholders and are expected to be launched later this year.

Given there are currently no viral hepatitis action plans or strategies in place in Victoria this is a positive step forward. It is the first time that a dedicated hepatitis B strategy has ever been pursued in Victoria, and the previous Victorian Hepatitis C Strategy expired at the end of 2009.

Hepatitis Victoria CEO, Melanie Eagle said that the decision by the Minister to pursue standalone strategies represents a new era in the strategic approach to responding to viral hepatitis.

“We are confident that the implementation of standalone strategies will result in significant improvement in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and ultimately, the elimination of the virus in Australia”, said Ms Eagle.

‘Given that more than four Victorians die each week as a result of viral hepatitis, this is a lifesaver.

“While there have been great developments over the past few months in relations to hepatitis C, particularly with groundbreaking medications becoming available to all Australians over 18 through the PBS, the broader effort to prevent and manage viral hepatitis continues to be challenging.

“We are pleased that the Minister shares our collective ambition to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health concern, and is committed to battling all stigma and discrimination associated with hepatitis, and we look forward to working with her to implement the strategies,” she said.

Fast facts:

  •  Almost 500,000 people in Australia, or 2% of the population, live with chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C). This is over 17 times the number of people living with HIV/AIDS. 
  • 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with viral hepatitis each year - around the same number diagnosed with breast cancer. 
  • Four Victorians die every week as a consequence of viral hepatitis.
  • Liver cancer largely caused by chronic viral hepatitis infection is the fastest increasing cause of cancer death in Australia.

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