IMAGE: Professor Margaret Hellard, Head of Burnet's Centre for Population Health
Burnet Institute’s Professor Margaret Hellard has welcomed the announcement of the Victorian Government’s strategies for hepatitis B and C, including the goal of elimination in by 2030.
Professor Hellard, the Head of Burnet’s Centre for Population Health, described the strategies as a bold way forward, in particular the focus on addressing the stigma and discrimination that can be experienced by people living with viral hepatitis.
“We need to take a multipronged approach, including harm reduction, testing, vaccines and treatment,” Professor Hellard said.
The Victorian hepatitis B strategy is a first for Victoria, while the hepatitis C strategy is the first since 2009 and since the introduction of new highly effective treatments for hepatitis C.
Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mary-Ann Thomas said the strategies reflect the Government’s aim to decrease the state’s public health burden and increase testing and treatment rates.
“We are setting the bar high with our ambitious target to eliminate viral hepatitis in Victoria by 2030,” Ms Thomas said.
“Any level of discrimination is completely unacceptable. That’s why we are working to stamp out stigma and discrimination and making people feel supported when seeking testing and treatment for hepatitis."
Ms Thomas said Victoria has set the goal of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2030 by:
reducing the number of new cases of hepatitis C, including reinfections by 90 per cent
increasing to 90 per cent the proportion of all people living with chronic hepatitis C who are diagnosed
increasing to 90 per cent the proportion of people living with chronic hepatitis C who are accessing appropriate treatment and care, and
eliminating reported levels of stigma and discrimination experienced by people with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis Victoria CEO Melanie Eagle said the Government’s initiative to pursue standalone strategies represents a new era in the critical response to viral hepatitis.
“This will, we hope, result in significant improvement in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and, ultimately, the elimination of the virus in Australia,” Ms Eagle said.
“We are pleased that the Victorian Government shares our collective ambition to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health concern, and is committed to battling all stigma and discrimination associate with hepatitis.
“We look forward to working with the Minister to implement the strategies.”
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