Government’s new hepatitis strategies – positive step to eliminate burden of disease

Thursday 28 July, 2016

Cancer Council Victoria welcomes the Victorian Government's new strategies to improve outcomes for the 218,000 Australians [1] living with hepatitis B and 230,000 Australians [2] living with hepatitis C.

Hepatitis B and C are the leading causes of primary liver cancer in Australia.  

221 of the liver cancers diagnosed in 2010 were attributable to the hepatitis B virus (16 per cent of all liver cancers) and a further 262 cases to hepatitis C (19 per cent) [3].

In total, 34 per cent of liver cancers were attributable to infections with these viruses.

The government's strategies announced today on World Hepatitis Day are expected to improve hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care and end stigma for people seeking testing or treatment.

Cancer Council Victoria congratulated the government on its commitment to reduce the incidence of hepatitis B and C in Victoria.

"A significant proportion of people living with hepatitis B and C in Australia are undiagnosed and many show no obvious symptoms," said Ms Chris Enright, Manager of Priority Populations at Cancer Council Victoria.

"It's concerning because without medical intervention, people with hepatitis B and C have a much higher risk of developing serious liver complications or dying from liver cancer.

"Two-in-five cases of hepatitis B in Australia are undiagnosed and without medical intervention, one in four people living with chronic hepatitis B will die from liver cirrhosis or liver cancer [4]."

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mary-Anne Thomas said the Andrews Labor Government has set a bold goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030 with ambitious targets that exceed those set by the World Health Organization.

"The two landmark strategies are a roadmap for eliminating the burden of viral hepatitis in Victoria through prevention initiatives, more testing and treatment and reducing stigma and discrimination of the disease," Ms Thomas said.

Ms Enright thanked the government for taking action that will provide the framework for investment into the future. 

"Liver cancer incidences are increasing in Australia and around the world [5], but this rise can be stopped through preventing and treating hepatitis [6]," she said.

World Hepatitis Day (28 July) is an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO has adopted the first-ever global hepatitis strategy with a goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

For more information about hepatitis B and liver cancer visit cancervic.org.au/hepatitis-b-and-liver-cancer

Details about World Hepatitis Day are available at worldhepatitisday.org.au/


 

  1. http://www.cancervic.org.au/for-health-professionals/community-health-professionals/hepatitis-b-and-liver-cancer
  2. http://www.cancervic.org.au/for-health-professionals/community-health-professionals/hepatitis-b-and-liver-cancer
  3. ‘Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to infectious agents,' Aust N Z J Public Health. 2015 Oct; 39(5): 446-451. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606775/
  4. http://www.cancervic.org.au/for-health-professionals/community-health-professionals/hepatitis-b-and-liver-cancer
  5. Cancer Council Victoria. Cancer Facts: Liver cancer in Victoria. May 2016
  6. http://www.cancervic.org.au/for-health-professionals/community-health-professionals/hepatitis-b-and-liver-cancer

 

Updated: 28 Jul, 2016