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Feature Article

Eliminating hepatitis C: introducing our new series

David Baker, Margaret Hellard
OPEN ACCESS

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Abstract

With the availability of direct-acting antiviral therapy, most patients with hepatitis C can be cured and hepatitis C can be eliminated as a public health threat. GPs have a crucial role in this task. In this issue, Medicine Today begins a five-part series to guide GPs through hepatitis C testing, treatment and cure in primary care.

New curative treatments for hepatitis C, known as direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), have revolutionised the management of people living with hepatitis C infection. DAA therapy is highly effective with more than 95% of patients being cured of their infection. DAAs are also very tolerable and easy to take: just one to three tablets daily for eight or 12 weeks.

The advent of DAA therapy means it is possible to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat. Australia is aiming for the elimination of hepatitis C by 2030, in line with global targets, led by the WHO and Australia’s National Hepatitis C Strategy 2018 to 2022.

GPs have a major role to play if Australia is to reach the 2030 elimination targets, as the vast majority of Australians with hepatitis C infection will be managed in primary care. Over the next five months Medicine Today will run a five-part series of articles, titled Eliminating hepatitis C, that guides GPs through hepatitis C testing, treatment and cure in primary care. 

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The first article in this issue – Finding your patients with hepatitis C – focuses on who to test and how to test for hepatitis C.  

The second article will provide practical advice on assessing a patient diagnosed with hepatitis C before treatment. The third article will give GPs a practical guide to hepatitis C treatment.

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The follow up of patients after hepatitis C treatment and cure, particularly those patients with significant liver disease, will be the focus of the fourth article. The final article will provide a series of case studies highlighting the GP experience of managing and curing hepatitis C in the community.

We hope that this series will encourage GPs around Australia to participate  in the miracle of hepatitis C cure and contribute to hepatitis C elimination by 2030. MT

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Dr Baker is a GP at East Sydney Doctors; Senior Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame Sydney, NSW; and Medical Advisor to the Australian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine. Professor Hellard is Deputy Director, Burnet Institute, Melbourne; Head of the Hepatitis Services, Department of Infectious Diseases, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne; Adjunct Professor, Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, Monash University, Melbourne; and Adjunct Professor, Doherty Institute and Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic.