Experts unite in their aim to eliminate Hepatitis C

Published: Tue 28 Jul 2015 09:27 AM
New Zealand experts unite in their aim to eliminate Hepatitis C
A Summit on Hepatitis C in New Zealand meets on World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness of a disease affecting an estimated 50,000 Kiwis1.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, 28 July 2015 – A broad range of the Kiwis who support patients with hepatitis C are gathering for a Summit in Wellington – they’ll be the first in the world to acknowledge World Hepatitis Day 2015.
Hepatitis C virus is estimated to affect 50,000 Kiwis1 and is known as a ‘silent epidemic’2. In New Zealand, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 people may be unaware they are infected with the blood-borne virus, because it is not routinely screened for, and its symptoms can be non-specific and difficult to diagnose.1
Clinicians, health advisors, and other Hepatitis C experts are being brought together today in a Summit convened by biopharmaceutical company AbbVie to discuss the impact of Hepatitis C in New Zealand and the actions required to minimise the impact of the disease in New Zealand and to work towards awareness, prevention and cure.
Leading Hepatitis C authority, Associate Professor Catherine Stedman, says that recent advances in treatments, diagnostic technologies and methods for assessing the stage of disease mean that New Zealand now has the potential opportunity to eliminate Hepatitis C.
Dr Stedman adds that the theme of World Hepatitis Day in 2015 is prevention of viral hepatitis, and that the World Health Organization has challenged member states, including New Zealand, to take action to address Hepatitis C.3
“Prevention and diagnosis are key here – many people are not tested until they develop serious consequences of Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is now New Zealand’s leading indication for liver transplantation4, and we need to work together to make sure people are aware of this virus and implement new measures to prevent, diagnose, and treat it successfully.”
“There is no vaccine that protects against Hepatitis C, but treatment of the virus can be highly effective, preventing progressive liver damage and liver cancer5,” she states.
We need to bring Hepatitis C onto people’s radars and work together to alleviate the impact it is having on New Zealanders,” says Dr Stedman.
The New Zealand Hepatitis C Summit being held today in Wellington will be addressed by international experts including Dr Magdalena Harris, Dr Homie Razavi, and Professor Ed Gane.

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