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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus causing liver inflammation resulting in mild to severe hepatitis, which may include lifelong liver cirrhosis and cancer. Around 58 million people in the world have chronic hepatitis C. While antiviral medicines can cure more than 95% of people with the infection, diagnosis and treatment access are limited. Burnet aims to make a major contribution to the elimination of hepatitis C.

Our main objectives are to:

  • work with key partners to support the achievement of World Health Organization (WHO) hepatitis C elimination targets in Australia before 2030
  • work towards WHO’s global viral hepatitis elimination strategy by addressing diagnosis, delivery of direct-acting antivirals, prevention and hep c vaccine development
  • work with key affected populations to improve our understanding of hepatitis C transmission, risk, diagnosis and care
  • establish surveillance systems to accurately measure hepatitis C incidence and prevalence in Australia
  • continue to follow cohorts of people who inject drugs (PWID) with or at risk of hepatitis C using a social network approach
  • work with key national and international researchers to develop international cohorts of PWID with hepatitis C
  • work with immunologists and virologists to understand the determinants of hepatitis C primary infection, reinfection and naïve infection
  • work with health services, including The Alfred, St Vincent’s and Royal Melbourne Hospitals and community health services to develop models of care to improve hepatitis C management in PWID
  • work with key national and international researchers and organisations, including WHO, to develop hep C surveillance, testing, care and treatment guidelines.

Burnet works closely with virologists, immunologists and mathematical modellers to improve our understanding of hepatitis C and its transmission and the management and care of people infected with it.

We conduct innovative studies, working closely with key affected populations, including:

  • people who inject drugs (PWID), the group most at risk of HCV infection in Australia
  • men who have sex with men
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
  • prisoners.

We’re also working on studies to understand how hepatitis C virus entry occurs and developing novel vaccine candidates against it. Despite the availability of a hepatitis C cure that works for over 95% of individuals with the infection, there is currently no effective vaccine.

Together, here are some of the ways we’ve made a positive contribution towards reaching global hepatitis C elimination targets:

  • being centrally involved in the development of the first WHO guidelines for screening care and treatment in people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • completing the Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C (ATAHC), which showed that PWID could be successfully enrolled and retained in HCV treatment and the successful involvement in the follow-up study, ATAHC 2
  • starting the Treatment and Prevention Study – the first study globally to examine the feasibility of using a nurse-led model of care for hepatitis C treatment of PWID with new direct-acting antiviral therapy
  • establishing the Prime Study - using existing community-based clinics to improve hepatitis care in PWID to undertake a trial comparing the efficacy of treatment in the community compared with a tertiary hospital setting
  • using the Australian Collaboration for Coordinated Enhanced Sentinel Surveillance of Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ACCESS) surveillance system to measure hepatitis C incidence and prevalence
  • establishing the Centre for Research Excellence in Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU).

is the number of people who inject drugs that are treated for hepatitis C each week by EC Australia (Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia), a Burnet-led partnership bringing together researchers, implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations to ensure the whole of Australia sustains high numbers of people accessing hepatitis C treatment to meet our elimination goals.


is the number of people identified in Burnet modelling who would need treatment each year from 2020 to 2030 to meet Myanmar’s 2030 national strategy target. This would avert an estimated 25,000 HCV-related deaths and 40,000 new infections (compared to the status quo scenario of treating 4,000 people annually).


A world-first study showing the benefits of treating hepatitis C in primary care was completed by Burnet-supported researchers. The study findings have informed global and country-specific guidelines across the world.


The first study globally to examine the feasibility of using a nurse-led model of care for hepatitis C treatment of PWID with new direct-acting antiviral therapy was completed by Burnet-supported researchers.

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.


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