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World Hepatitis Day: Get tested, get treated

Media Release

Thursday 26 July 2018

World Hepatitis Day: Get tested, get treated

Get tested, get treated – this is the message Southern DHB will be promoting again this year as part of World Hepatitis Day.

World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on 28 July to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and the impact it has worldwide. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2018 is ‘Eliminate Hepatitis – find the missing millions’.

Southern DHB Clinical Nurse Specialist, Gastroenterology, Margaret Fraser says New Zealand has an estimated 25,000 people undiagnosed with Hepatitis C. “It’s thought these people are the ‘working well’, aged between 40 and 65 years, who see their GP infrequently (if ever).

“They’re at risk of having developed significant and advanced liver disease before being diagnosed with Hepatitis C as symptoms can be vague. Once liver disease has developed, people are at risk of developing liver cancer or failure.”

Treatment for Hepatitis C is improving all the time, and Pharmac is proposing to fund a new medication that has minimal side-effects and a cure rate of 99%. The only criteria to qualify for treatment is diagnosis of Hepatitis C infection.

“Affected individuals also no longer require a liver biopsy before treatment to check the overall health of the liver. Instead they have a Fibroscan, a non-invasive and simple test (similar to an ultrasound) that takes approximately five minutes,” says Margaret.

GP’s are ideally placed to screen for Hepatitis C and are now able to treat it in the community.

Who is at risk of Hep C?

People at risk of having Hep C might be able to say “yes” to any of the following questions:
• Have you ever had jaundice or abnormal liver function?
• Does your mother or a household member have Hep C?
• Have you ever lived in or received health care in South-East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, Eastern Europe?
• Have you ever had a tattoo or a body piercing?
• Have you ever injected drugs or used intranasal drugs?
• Have you ever been in prison?
• Did you receive a blood transfusion prior to July 1992?

Less common risks include:

• Sexual practices with may risk blood contact with a person who is infected with the Hep C virus
• Sharing personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes, which may have come into contact with the blood of an infected person.

“Our message is that testing saves lives – if you’re at risk of Hepatitis C talk to your Doctor about getting tested,” says Margaret.

For more information about Hepatitis C go to:

For more information about the new medication Pharmac is proposing to fund go to:


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