Hepatitis C looks promising during clinical trials

A NEW cure for Hepatitis C could be on the horizon after American scientists revealed two anti-viral drugs destroyed the virus in patients during clinical trials.

According to findings published in The Lancet medical journal, the treatment wiped out the infection in almost all of the 100 patients involved.

In 2013 so far, 1902 Queenslanders have been diagnosed with the virus.

Across Australia in 2012, 2550 people died in 2012 from liver disease caused by Hepatitis C.

The current treatment is intensive, taking between six to 12 months with patients likely to endure flu-like symptoms.

Hepatitis C has long remained under-diagnosed because of an indignity that comes with infection.

It is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, which can include sex although it is not classified as sexually-transmitted.

Those with the highest risk are injecting drug users and prison inmates.

Immigrants from some Asian countries, people who have had dental operations overseas or even certain blood transfusions in the 1980s before blood was screened for the virus are also affected.

Queensland Health viral Hepatitis health practitioner Rhondda Lewis said it was another challenging aspect when dealing with Hepatitis C.

"A lot of people will never know how they got it because there is quite a bit of stigma attached to it," she said.

It is also a slow-moving virus, leaving sufferers feeling vague, tired or as though they are not eating well.

But as it progresses, Hepatitis C begins to inflict damage to the liver, resulting in liver disease, cancer and even the need for transplant.

In the latest figures from Queensland Health, 551 people in Brisbane have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C this year, as have 202 on the Gold Coast, 99 on the Sunshine Coast and 100 in Rockhampton.

Professor Margaret Hellard of the Burnet Institute in Melbourne said this was still a small study so while it was fine to be optimistic, the implications were not yet fully understood.HEP C in QLD.

According to the latest figures from Queensland Health, the rate of Hepatitis C diagnoses in Queensland include:

Darling Downs: 114
Gold Coast: 202
Moreton Bay: 156
Rockhampton: 100
Sunshine Coast: 99
Townsville: 193
Wide Bay: 95
Brisbane total: 551
Queensland total: 1902

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