15th December 2017, Volume 130 Number 1467

Ian Sheerin

New Zealand and Australia have a major hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic which is receiving inadequate public health policy attention. Currently there is a mix of factors that offer the…

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Summary

There is potential to control and possibly eliminate the hepatitis C virus epidemic in New Zealand and in Australia. It can cause more advanced liver disease, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer but it is potentially preventable and curable. There is inadequate public health policy attention to preventing new infections and reducing barriers. There is a need for increased investment to reduce barriers, improve coordination and community awareness and to collaborate to engage with the affected population who can be stigmatised and marginalised.

Abstract

New Zealand and Australia both now have the potential for a major public health success in controlling the hepatitis C virus epidemic. The burden of advanced liver disease and drug-related harm is increasing. However, a new range of anti-viral therapies have become available which offer a potential cure for most people with few side-effects. The epidemic is potentially preventable and hepatitis C is now curable. Although public health strategies for blood-borne viruses have been updated, they fall short of what is needed and should be upgraded with more emphasis on prevention, in order to achieve control of this epidemic.

Author Information

Ian Sheerin, Population Health, University of Otago, Christchurch. 

Correspondence

Dr Ian Sheerin, Population Health, University of Otago, 34 Gloucester St, Christchurch 8140.

Correspondence Email

ian.sheerin@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Dr Sheerin is Chairman of the Hepatitis C resource Centre Trust (Te Waipounamu) Inc, which has previously received New Zealand government funding to undertake educational activities to increase awareness about the causes and prevention of blood borne virus transmission.

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