A recent report reveals about 90 per cent of Australians with hepatitis C have not undergone treatment, although treatments for the condition are available.
Only two per cent of 284,000 Australians with hepatitis C undergo treatment annually, showing the significant health and economic costs Australia will have to shoulder in the future, stated a recent report.
Based on the study led by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology & Clinical Research (NCHECR) at the University of New South Wales, the low treatment uptake did not make sense as hepatitis C is a curable condition and the costs related to treatments are primarily supported by the federal government.
A combination treatment with a high cure rates - of 50 to 80 per cent - has been made available since 2003, yet a small percentage - 10 per cent - of hepatitis C patients have received treatments.
The report stated the reduction in the number of those needing liver transplants and liver-associated fatalities would significantly be reduced through the increase in treatment rates.
Dr Rosie Thein, coauthor of the report says, If annual treatment rates are increased three- to four-fold, to about 12,000 people a year, the number of new cases of liver failure and liver cancer, liver transplants and liver-related deaths over the next 30 years would drop by about 20 per cent.
The report stated the long-term savings would be a total of $274 million over the same duration - particularly in patient and family-time costs related to hepatitis C care.
Helen Tyrrell, CEO Hepatitis Australia said necessary actions must be taken to improve the present low treatment uptake, and the country can no longer afford to stand by and watch the disease continues to grow and become increasingly costly to manage.
In Australia, hepatitis C is the number one cause of liver transplant. Although treatment options are at hand, the treatment services' accessibility remains limited for many people with the condition.