New hepatitis C treatment to benefit patients

Hep C

Media release 26 February 2019 | A new, free and easier treatment for all types of hepatitis C means more than 350 diagnosed patients in the Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) area who haven’t been able to benefit from previously funded treatments, could now be cured. 

Thousands of undiagnosed hepatitis C patients living in the CM Health area could also benefit from the new treatment.  The newly funded drug Maviret can be prescribed by GPs and has the potential to cure up to 99 per cent of patients. 

“It is a simpler oral treatment with minimal to no side effects”, says CM Health clinical nurse specialist Lucy Mills. 

Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. The most common way of contracting hepatitis C is through intravenous drug use, but there are many other ways people can get the virus, from receiving medical treatment overseas, to getting a tattoo.

“In our area, we have found that the majority of people from Asia who have hepatitis C have contracted it from medical treatment overseas, in their countries of birth,” says Ms Mills.

Hepatitis C is serious and if left untreated, can lead to fatal diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.  About half of the people who have the hepatitis C virus don’t know they have it, as the symptoms can be subtle. 

Ms Mills urges people who are at increased risk of having hepatitis C to go to a GP and ask for a blood test, so they can start the treatment as soon as possible to avoid other complications. 

Local Botany GP, Dr Jing Dong, says people should not be ashamed to seek treatment. 

“This is a lifesaving and simple treatment. People don’t need to be afraid. We can treat this serious disease and offer a cure,” she says.

People are at increased risk of hepatitis C if they have:

  • injected drugs (even if it was only once);
  • ever received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment;
  • had a blood transfusion before 1992;
  • lived or received medical treatment in a high-risk country;
  • been in prison; or
  • been born to a mother living with hepatitis C
Contact your GP to get tested or for more information visit gethepctested.co.nz

Issued by: Counties Manukau Health Communications

Media Line: Ph (09) 250 9857   Email: Communications@middlemore.co.nz