Three per cent of Victorians live with viral hepatitis in the NWMPHN catchment. The prevalence of hepatitis B in Melbourne, Yarra, Brimbank, Darebin and Maribyrnong, and the incidence of hepatitis C in Melbourne, Brimbank, Darebin, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton and Wyndham, are higher than the Victorian averages.
If left untreated, both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can lead to serious liver disease, liver cancer and death.
Recent changes to the prescribing and dispensing of hepatitis B and hepatitis C treatment have improved access and availability. These changes include access to hepatitis B and hepatitis C medicines through community pharmacies and the listing of new direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) to treat hepatitis C on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) General Schedule.
These changes mean more people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C can receive treatment in primary care. There is a pressing need to train and support the primary health workforce to increase screening, treatment and management of people with and/or at risk of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
NWMPHN has identified both hepatitis B and hepatitis C as priorities. In particular, NWMPHN is focusing on prevention, testing, treatment, and reducing stigma and discrimination, in alignment with the Victorian hepatitis B strategy 2016-2020 and Victorian hepatitis C strategy 2016-2020.