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Hep C highest on North Coast

THE NORTH Coast has the highest rate of infection for hepatitis C in the State, despite the fact that up to 80 per cent of sufferers can be cured.

The Hepatitis C Council of NSW has found that our State houses 100,000 people infected with the disease, with the North Coast area showing the highest rates of infection at 97.4/100,000 population.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease spread by blood-to-blood contact that can cause inflammation of the liver and lead to liver failure and cancer.

Hepatitis C Council executive officer Stuart Loveday said the need to increase treatment rates is critical.

“More than 200,000 ordinary Australians have hepatitis C, but less than two per cent of them receive treatment,” he said. “This year 10,000 more people will get hepatitis C, and most of these will be young people.”

Mr Loveday said awareness of the fact that the infection can cure 50 to 80 per cent of people undergoing treatment is low among both the community and health professionals.

“Some people are put off by treatment side effects, which can be severe for some people,” he said.

“But liver damage often occurs slowly and silently, making it very important for people to understand their options and not wait too long to consider treatment.”

The Hepatitis C Council has launched a $20,000 grants program to assist community health organisations and health workers to raise awareness about the risk, prevention and treatment of the disease.

For information, go to website www.hepatitisc.org.au.



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