GPs embrace new hepatitis C treatments

Western Australian general practitioners are amongst the nation’s most proactive when it comes to prescribing effective new treatments for people living with hepatitis C.

A new report released by the Kirby Institute at UNSW this week, found that after the new treatments became available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) last year, the proportion of prescriptions by GPs in WA increased from 4 per cent in March to 23 per cent in September. This is higher than the national trend which showed an increase from 4 to 19 per cent.

WA Health’s Sexual Health and Blood borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian, said the results were pleasing, and she’s hopeful that the trend will continue.

“GPs are the key to greater access to treatment and care for people living with hepatitis C,” she said.

“We are pleased to see an increasing number of GPs prescribing the treatments, because they are so life changing and we are urging more GPs to get on board and start offering the new treatments to their patients living with chronic hepatitis C.”

From March to September 2016 in WA, 1670 people initiated direct acting antiviral (DAA) treatment for chronic hepatitis C. This represents 8 per cent of people living with hepatitis C in this state. Across Australia, 11 per cent of people living with chronic hepatitis C initiated the treatment in the same period.

In Australia, the biggest risk factor for hepatitis C is injecting drug use.

WA Health is currently running a health campaign which targets at risk groups to help raise awareness of how to prevent the spread of hepatitis C and the effective new treatments available.

Learn more about treatment guidelines for hepatitis C.

Read the full Kirby report (external site). (Additional WA data was supplied to WA Health by the Kirby Institute).