Challenges and opportunities for enhanced services
Over 300 000 Australians have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV), of whom an estimated 226 700 are living with chronic infection, including 16 000 Indigenous Australians.1,2 Transmission of HCV occurs via blood-to-blood contact, most notably via injecting drug use.3 About 10 000 new infections are estimated to occur annually, and only 25% of infected individuals clear the virus during acute infection. Accordingly, the population living with chronic infection is steadily increasing.3,4 Over the next 20–40 years, about 20% of individuals with chronic hepatitis C are estimated to progress to cirrhosis,5 and thereafter 3% will die each year from liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma.6 Chronic hepatitis C is already the leading indication for liver transplantation in Australia.4
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