Work in progress for improving hepatitis treatment services in New Zealand.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection affecting over 50,000 New Zealanders, although it is estimated only half are currently diagnosed. Untreated, 20–25% will develop cirrhosis, and without successful treatment, 5–10% of those with cirrhosis will progress to life-threatening liver cancer or liver failure every year.
People at risk include those who have:
- ever injected drugs
- ever received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment
- had a blood transfusion before 1992
- ever lived or received medical treatment in a high risk country
- ever been in prison
- been born to a mother living with hepatitis C.
There have been major advances in the treatment of hepatitis C through new PHARMAC funded treatments. DHB regions have also revised the delivery of hepatitis C services by integrating service delivery across primary and secondary care. More information about both of these developments is outlined in the following pages.