Suzanne O’Callaghan is HFA Policy Research and Education Manager
HFA has been monitoring access to the new hepatitis C treatments for people with bleeding disorders around Australia. We have been pleased to see that most people have started treatment or have an appointment to discuss treatment. Some have now completed treatment and are going through the process of waiting the 12 weeks to hear whether the treatment has cured their hepatitis C.
However, we are aware of some barriers stopping people from accessing the new treatments and are looking at ways to overcome this:
If you or someone you know have a problem that is stopping you from accessing hepatitis C treatment, we strongly encourage you to talk to your Haemophilia Treatment Centre or your local Foundation or HFA to see what solutions can be found.
Another concern for HFA is that some men and women with mild bleeding disorders may not know that they were at risk of hepatitis C if they ever had a clotting factor treatment before 1993.
Screening of the blood supply and HCV viral inactivation manufacturing processes for clotting factor concentrates were not introduced until the early 1990s, so anyone in Australia who had a clotting factor treatment for their bleeding disorder before 1993 needs to be tested for hepatitis C.
Over the last several years Haemophilia Treatment Centres have been checking the hepatitis C status of their patients in this group as they come in for a review. Men and women with mild disorders, including women who carry the gene and have only had an occasional need for factor treatment, may go for years without needing treatment and are often not in contact with their local Haemophilia Treatment Centre to have their hepatitis C status reviewed.
Suzanne O'Callaghan with the HFA hepatitis C poster
Having these new treatments available on the PBS is a great opportunity to have a future without hepatitis C for the bleeding disorders community. Some people have been worried that if they have treatment and it is not successful, they will not have other options. The aim of the hepatitis clinicians is to cure hepatitis C in all Australians – so please be reassured that if someone is unlucky enough not to be cured with the first round of treatment, other treatment options will be considered and there are more in the pipeline.
The Australian Government is committed to eliminating hepatitis C in Australia by 2026. Let’s see if we can achieve this much earlier in the bleeding disorders community!
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