Groundbreaking treatment set to wipe out hepatitis C virus

Source: Herald Sun Author: Lucie van den Berg

A debilitating virus affecting thousands of Australians is on the way out as a public health threat after a record uptake of new treatments that cure almost all sufferers.

More than 20,000 Australians have been given the new generation of hepatitis C treatments in the four months since they became available.

The “freakishly phenomenal” uptake has stunned medics and researchers, who say if it continues it will virtually eliminate the virus as a public health threat within a decade.

Since the new therapies became available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, data from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia show more than 20,000 people have begun treatment. This compares with 3000 people a year treated by older medicines.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Associate Professor Benjamin Cowie, who is based at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said no one expected the “historic explosion” in uptake.