Western Vic Regional Forum to fight viral hepatitis scourge
13 November 2017
A forum in Ararat on 21st
November will give Western Victoria’s health and community workers training and
the most up to date knowledge on the latest treatments tackling the scourge of
viral hepatitis, a pandemic disease impacting the lives of an estimated 100,000
Ararat Rural City Mayor Glenda McLean said she applauded the initiative of Hepatitis Victoria in arranging the forum in Ararat.
"Hepatitis is a misunderstood and feared disease, but the focus on management and treatment, including the hepatitis C cure is welcome news for our community and the broader Western District," she said.
Martin Forrest, Hepatitis
Victoria’s Health Promotion Programs Manager said despite the disease being so
prevalent and deadly -killing up to 6 Victorians every week- viral hepatitis
has a very low profile and remains shrouded in ignorance and stigma.
“Close to half a million
Australians are living with some form of chronic hepatitis, it’s a ‘silent
epidemic’ but the good news is with the new treatments it can be eliminated,”
New and more effective drugs
have been introduced which have revolutionised the approach to treatment
particularly for hepatitis C.
“In the past hepatitis was
managed purely in the hospital setting, but now primary care plays a key role
in eliminating the disease, so we will be looking at both hepatitis B and
hepatitis C,” Martin said.
“The forum will not only raise awareness, it will
provide the latest updates regarding treatment and management of viral
hepatitis and news about the hep C cure, -it’s also a professional development
opportunity,” he said.
“Its three or four years
since we held an event in the western region and in that time the options
available and referral pathways have totally changed. The forum is a great
opportunity to build new networks and learn knowledge that will really help
people in the area who have this condition,” Martin said.
The forum is not just for
those involved in clinical support but also people in social and community
health services such as homelessness services.
“We now have the ability to
eliminate hepatitis, but to do that we need to have the support of health,
social and community workers,” Martin said.
On World Hepatitis Day in July 2016, the
Victorian Government launched Hepatitis B
and Hepatitis C Strategies, a roadmap for eliminating the burden of viral
hepatitis in the state between now and 2030 through prevention initiatives,
more testing and treatment, and reducing the stigma and discrimination
surrounding the condition.
The Department of Health and
Human Services is supporting the forum.