For health professionals
General practitioners can now treat
hepatitis C in consultation with specialists.
For all other health professionals, there
is a range of good information that can assist you in providing advice and
support to clients who are concerned about, or may have been diagnosed with
asked questions (FAQs)
As a GP can I treat hepatitis C?
Yes GPs can treat patients with hepatitis C. It is very straightforward. The new treatments are all oral, usually taken
once a day for around 12 weeks (sometimes 24 weeks) and generally very well
Treatment needs to be undertaken in
consultation with a specialist by phone, fax or email. There is an example of a standard remote consultation form. Once you have the approval from a specialist it is a standard call to the PBS Authority Line.
What does in consultation mean?
In consultation with a specialist can be by
phone, fax or email with your local specialist service. If you don’t have access to a local
specialist ring the Hepatitis Victoria Infoline on 1800 703 003 and they will
be able to put you with touch with one.
You need to know the genotype and whether there is evidence of cirrhosis or not, what other medication the person is on, and whether ot not they are ready for treatment.
Download a remote consultation form
How is a diagnosis of hepatitis C confirmed?
People need to be both antibody and PCR
positive to confirm a diagnosis of hepatitis C. Antibody positive alone only confirms exposure at some point. It does not mean the virus is still present
in their blood. Also we need to know genotype to decide on the best treatment to use.
What tests are needed?
Initial diagnosis of hepatitis C can only be
confirmed through a PCR test, which shows whether or not the virus is present
in the blood. A PCR test is only
undertaken if a previous antibody test has shown the patient has been exposed
to the virus. If a PCR test comes back as positive then a
range of other tests will be needed to determine the genotype, state of the liver, and viral load.
Should I treat someone who is still injecting?
Yes treatment is available to all and
should be offered to anyone with hepatitis C who want to be cured in a non-judgemental manner. New treatments not only provide a cure, they also help to prevent
transmission to others. You might want to engage other services that work with this community to assist treatment completion.
How easy is it to access the treatments?
Any pharmacy can supply these treatments
under prescription. Supply should be
available in all geographical areas but it is probably good to ring your local
pharmacy first to make sure they can ensure continuity of access for your
For any queries about pharmacies contact
the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 703 003.
Do GPs need to undertake any special training to treat
patients with hepatitis C?
The only requirement is that you
treat a patient in consultation with a specialist. However for those interested in further
training there are a range of options:
Australian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) training
National Prescribing Service Online Training
HealthPathways (to login please email for the username and password)
Is support required once the patient has cleared the virus?
If the patient has any evidence of liver damage ongoing surveillance will be required and it is recommended that referral to a specialist gastroenterologist or hepetologist should be made.
Some patients may need counseling or support while they adapt to life without the infection. For some people the transition from having a chronic infection that may have been present for decades to the position of being clear can be difficult.
The hepatitis C virus is often ascribed as the cause of physical and psychological discomfort, and any persistence of these symptoms post cure can cause confusion.
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