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On the 28 July each year, World Hepatitis Day is held to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence change in the community.
Nurse Practitioner Hepatology Burglind Liddle said understanding in the community was crucial for breaking down the stigma of the disease.
“Hepatitis A is very uncommon in Australia due to out high standards of food sanitation, Hepatitis A is caught through contaminated food and water and is a short-lived disease with patients often making a full recovery,” she said.
“Hepatitis B is the most common liver virus in the world however we vaccinate against it in Australia which prevents new infections. You can only get it through the transmission of infected bodily fluids.
“There are two types of Hepatitis B infections - chronic and acute, adults with an acute infection will get sick for a short time then recover. Those who are babies may however go on to develop chronic Hepatitis B which will impact how the liver works for the remainder of their life.”
Burglind says it’s important to understand that Hepatitis B is manageable and treatable, with appropriate medical care patients can lead normal lives.
“Finally, Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that is curable, however without treatment, Hepatitis C can cause liver disease and liver cancer,” she said.
“Hepatitis C is only passed through infected blood, so we commonly see it with unclean syringe usage. Chronic Hepatitis C occurs in 80 per cent of acute infections .
“People with chronic hepatitis C can now be cured with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medicines which are simple, safe and effective.”
Burglind says the best way to manage these conditions is to stay in contact with your health care provider and follow their plan.
“Sadly only 22 per cent of people with chronic Hepatitis B receive regular monitoring and treatment and only 39 per cent of those in Australia with chronic Hepatitis C who have completed treatment, which is well below the WHO goals for 2030,” she said.
“By raising awareness and reducing the stigma of this disease we are hopeful more people will engage with their health care providers for treatment, follow their care plans and recover or manage these viral infections to achieve best outcomes.”
To find out more about Mater’s Hepatology Services please visit https://www.mater.org.au/health/services/gastroenterology-and-hepatology, or make a referral please visit, https://www.materonline.org.au/specialist/gastroenterology
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