Viral Hepatitis Elimination Group

Co-Heads: Professor Margaret Hellard and Dr Joseph Doyle

General public   shutterstock 278463842

Overview

Globally viral hepatitis is a major disease burden responsible for an estimated 1.4 million deaths per year, the vast majority of these due to hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In Australia it is estimated that more than 220,000 people are living with chronic hepatitis C infection and more than 200,000 are living with hepatitis B.

The Viral Hepatitis Group works closely with virologists, immunologists and mathematical modellers to improve our understanding of hepatitis C and its transmission, and improving the management and care of people already infected with these viruses. The ultimate aim is to eliminate hepatitis C and B transmission and illness and deaths related to these viruses by 2030.

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
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the group a most risk of hepatitis B infection in Australia
  • men who have sex with men
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
  • prisoners.

Our work aims to reduce disease transmission of these infections and improve the detection, management and health outcomes of people already infected with these viruses.

Objectives

  • To work with key affected populations to improve our understanding of hepatitis B and C transmission, risk, diagnosis and care.
  • To establish surveillance systems to accurately measure hepatitis B and C incidence and prevalence in Australia
  • Continue to follow cohorts of 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 health services, particularly community health services and general practitioners to improve the identification of undiagnosed hepatitis B, and the management of people with chronic hepatitis B
  • Work with key national and international researchers and organisations, including WHO to develop guidelines for hepatitis B and C surveillance, testing, care and treatment.

Highlights

  • Central involvement in the development of the first WHO Guidelines for Screening Care and Treatment in people infected with hepatitis C
  • Completion of the Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C (ATAHC), which showed that PWID can be successfully enrolled and retained in HCV treatment and the successful involvement in ATAHC 2.
  • The commencement of 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, using a networks based
  • The establishment of the Prime Study - using community based clinics previously established to improve hepatitis care in PWID, we will undertake a trial compared the efficacy of treamtnet in the community compared with a tertiary hospital setting.
  • The use of the ACCESS surveillance system to measure hepatitis B and hepatitis C incidence and prevalence.
  • The establishment of the Centre for Research Excellence in Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU)

Projects