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Historic partnership aims to end hep C within a decade

Angus Morgan

27 May, 2016

The quest to eliminate the burden of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Australia within a decade will be boosted with a new, exciting collaborative partnership between Burnet Institute and The Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia.

A historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today between two of Australia’s leading infectious diseases institutes creates opportunities to undertake joint research, education, professional training and program design and evaluation.

The MOU provides for Burnet and Kirby to engage with Australian and international agencies for research and program funding with a special focus on HCV elimination.

A collaborative relationship to be known as the Australian Hepatitis C Elimination Program is outlined in the MOU. It aims to eliminate the burden of HCV in Australia by 2026.

Head of the Centre for Population Health at Burnet Institute, Professor Margaret Hellard said the MOU signifies a joint commitment from the two institutes to achieve the goal of elimination.

“Hepatitis C elimination, both within Australia and globally, is now possible with the advent of new direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS),” Professor Hellard said.

“The Federal Government has made a far-reaching decision to make treatment available to everyone who needs it, and it’s up to us to make this happen.

IMAGE: Professor Margaret Hellard and Professor Greg Dore at the signing of the MOU

“It’s highly unusual to have a cure available for a chronic disease, and we must make the most of this exciting opportunity.

“Working together, not just as research organisations, but with governments, the community and affected populations, is a signal of our commitment to this cause.”

Head of the Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at The Kirby Institute, Professor Greg Dore is excited by the opportunities in this collaboration.

“Given the broad access to highly curative hepatitis C treatments, including GP prescribing since March 2016, Australia is in a unique position. Many countries are looking to Australia as the ideal setting to achieve HCV elimination,” Professor Dore said.

“The initial months of PBS access to new hepatitis C treatments has seen a huge increase in uptake, with many thousands being treated.”

An estimated 230,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis C resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. Deaths due to HCV continue to increase, making it one of Australia’s major public health issues.

Burnet Institute is an independent medical research and public health organisation that seeks to achieve better health for poor and vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally through research, education and public health.

The Kirby Institute’s mission is to lead the research effort against blood-borne viruses and related diseases in Australia and in our region.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Margaret Hellard AM

Deputy Director (Programs); Adjunct Professor, Monash University, DEPM.

Telephone

+61385062304

Email

margaret.hellard@burnet.edu.au

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