Today is World Hepatitis Day. This is a day when we come together globally to take action on viral hepatitis. We share the message of Hep can’t wait!, reminding us that hepatitis C remains an important issue for our community and that acting now is vital.
We are concerned that some people with mild haemophilia and VWD may not know they have hep C. And some of our community members may have been cured but still need follow-up for their liver health, especially if they have cirrhosis. And keeping your liver healthy is important for all of us!
We are grateful to community members Alex and Jake who have shared their personal stories and to hepatitis specialists Assoc Prof Simone Strasser and Dr Joe Sasadeusz for their expert advice on hepatitis C for people with bleeding disorders.
HEP C AND BLEEDING DISORDERS
You may be aware that in Australia many people with bleeding disorders acquired hepatitis C from blood products such as clotting factor treatment products or blood transfusions before 1993. Several safety measures were introduced by 1993 and the risk of bloodborne viruses from plasma-derived clotting factor products in Australia is now considered to be extremely low. But many people in our community live on with the consequences of those early infections.
Current hep C treatments are radically different to the early interferon treatments. They are now a once-daily tablet, with few if any side-effects and very high cure rates. Many Australians with bleeding disorders and hepatitis C have now had treatment and been cured – but some need ongoing care for their liver health.
WHO IS AT RISK?
For some women and men with mild haemophilia and VWD, who perhaps only had one or two treatments in their lifetime, it has been a surprise to find out they were exposed to hepatitis C.
But if you ever had a blood product before 1993, including blood transfusions and plasma-derived clotting factor concentrates, you could be at risk of hepatitis C.
You may have been wondering about testing and not got around to it yet. But now is the time to talk to your doctor about a hep C test – and have treatment to be cured, if you do have hep C!
WERE YOU CURED?
Has your liver recovered?
It’s a temptation to put your liver health out of your mind once you are cured. But if you don’t know what your liver test results were when you were cured, don’t wait to find out. Take the time to contact your hepatitis doctor or your GP and ask them.
If you had cirrhosis or extensive scarring before being treated and cured of hep C, you will still need to have a liver ultrasound scan every 6 months long-term.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR LIVER HEALTHY?
A healthy liver is important to us all. Your liver has a lot of different jobs to do to keep your body working well.
Some tips from our hepatitis specialists –
To keep your liver in good shape:
- Have a balanced diet
- Stay active and maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid or minimise alcohol intake
- Take care of your mental health and wellbeing
- Ask your doctor if you need liver health monitoring.
Community members Alex and Jake have generously shared their personal stories about their hep C journey, clearing hep C and the importance of managing your liver health.
“Being clear of the virus is quite amazing. The new hep C treatment was a godsend – I felt like I had won a million dollars.” – Read Alex's story“Now that my liver is working better, everything is better.” – Read Jake's story
IN SHORT – DON’T PUT IT OFF!
Find out your hep C status if you don't know
- Hep C can be cured. Treatment is simple
- If you have been cured, ask your doctor if you need ongoing liver health monitoring
- Take steps to look after your liver health.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
Consider starting a conversation about it, if you think this may be relevant to someone you know among your family and friends.
And share this information with others!
You can find more information on the HFA World Hepatitis Day page.
Find out more