Chronic hepatitis C is a major public health issue. Of acutely affected people with hepatitis C virus infection, about 80% will eventually develop chronic infection.
- Over 200,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. They incur a 20-year risk of cirrhosis of 7% and a lifetime risk of hepatocellular carcinoma of 2 to 3%.
- Those with a current or past history of intravenous drug use represent the most prevalent subgroup (50 to 80%).
- About 80% of people with acute HCV infection eventually develop chronic infection.
- The incidence of newly identified cases is predicted to increase in future years. Chronic HCV infection is, therefore, a major public health issue.
- Combined therapy with peginterferon alfa-2a or 2b and ribavirin (Pegasys RBV Combination Therapy and Pegatron Combination Therapy [with PEG-Intron Redipen Injector], respectively) can achieve sustained virological response rates of 50 to 60% for all genotype infections of HCV.