Let’s talk about Hep – Hepatitis Awareness Week 2020

27 July 2020

With effective treatment available to manage Hepatitis B and cure Hepatitis C, primary care providers have a vital role in eliminating Viral Hepatitis in Australia.  During Hepatitis Awareness Week 2020 (22 July – 2 August) and on World Hepatitis Day 2020 (July 28) primary care providers are being encouraged to continue to *"find the missing millions".  

Universal access to direct‐acting antiviral (DAA) medication for hepatitis C virus (HCV) places Australia in a unique position to reach global HCV elimination goals. HCV is now easy to treat and cure as DAA therapies for HCV are highly effective and are well tolerated. However, in NSW it is estimated 62% of people to be living with HCV still need to be treated[i]. To achieve elimination, increasing the case finding of HCV and the prescribing of DAA treatment in GP settings is essential.

Some new strategies to support easier initiation of HCV treatment have been implemented in the last year. The recent changes include[ii]:

  • Removal of the PBS requirement to document HCV genotype before prescribing pan-genotypic treatment regimens for HCV, and
  • Removal of the PBS requirement that patients be aged 18 years or older before prescribing treatment for HCV (should be done in collaboration with an HCV experienced paediatrician).

In NSW, many GPs have embraced HCV prescribing. From July 2018 to June 2019, GPs initiated 1,918 NSW residents on HCV treatment. This was equal to 52% of all HCV treatment initiations in NSW during this period.

For most people living with HCV, receiving treatment from their GPs removes significant barriers to alternate care. It also gives GPs a major role in HCV elimination and in prevention of cirrhosis and liver cancer in Australia.

In both Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), hospital and community medical, nursing and health promotion teams are eager to support GP screening and prescribing for HCV.  

Updated HCV treatment information is available at:

Both SLHD and SESLHD have a strong commitment to screening for and treating Hepatitis B (HBV). Case finding and linking those who require treatment on to treatment is an important role for GPs.

In 2017 there were an estimated 79,685 people living with HBV in NSW'. Many people remain undiagnosed. Up to 1 in 4 people with HBV can die from liver cancer or liver failure unless they receive appropriate treatment and monitoring. HBV disproportionally impacts people originating from high prevalence countries and Aboriginal people[iii]. NSW has been successful in preventing locally acquired HBV through HBV vaccination.

SLHD and SESLHD clinicians are part of ongoing efforts to support GPs to screen, provide access to HBV treatment and provide life-long monitoring to their patients.

Updated HBV treatment information is available at:

For support in the Sydney LHD, please contact Janice Pritchard-Jones (SLHD Hepatitis Coordinator), Janice.PritchardJones@health.nsw.gov.au.
For support in South Eastern Sydney LHD, please contact Lisa Dowdell (Community Liver Disease Nurse Consultant), Lisa.Dowdell@health.nsw.gov.au.

 *Click here for the Find the Missing Millions campaign from the World Hepatitis Alliance

[i] NSW HCV Report card

[ii] Gastroenterological Society of Australia

[iii] NSW HBV Report card