Jul 20
What do one in 100 Australians have in common? hepatitis awareness week 23-29 July 2012

The Dubbo community will have opportunity to learn about viral hepatitis during Hepatitis Awareness week.

Dubbo hepatology nurse Gail Snelgar said it’s imperative people understand the crucial messages behind the hepatitis awareness campaign. “One in one hundred of us have hepatitis C and not know it,” Ms Snelgar, said

 “I’ll be staffing a display in the Dubbo City Centre during the week, giving people brochures and talking to them about liver health and hepatitis.” Ms Snelgar said. “Our display in the Dubbo City Centre during Hepatitis awareness week, will focus on improving community  awareness about hepatitis C- talking to people about liver health and providing information to them about hepatitis C testing and treatment opportunities in Dubbo and outlying communities. 

 “We need to change the mindset that people who have injected drugs are the only people at risk of having the disease. If you’ve ever had a tattoo, a blood transfusion or an operation outside of Australia, then you could have hepatitis C,” she said.

Awareness raising activities across the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) such as the ‘Dubbo City Centre hepatitis forum’ are focussing on bringing awareness about viral hepatitis to local residents and highlighting local opportunities for hepatitis testing and treatment.

Hepatitis, meaning inflammation of the liver, is often caused by a viral infection. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, including early mortality, for a significant number of Australians.

Hepatitis NSW CEO, Stuart Loveday, said there are estimated to be more than 225,000 people in Australia living with chronic hepatitis C and 170,000 people with chronic hepatitis B.

“Despite the prevalence and seriousness of hepatitis, few people know that hepatitis C can be treated and cured in the vast majority of cases.” Mr Loveday said. “And there is a good and effective treatment for people with hepatitis B as well, but treatment take-up rates for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are low.”

Public awareness of viral hepatitis is poor. Many people, including some health workers, are neither aware of the ways hepatitis is transmitted nor of the treatments available. NSW Hepatitis Awareness Week 2012 runs from the 23to 29 July, and World Hepatitis Day is on Saturday 28 July.

Media Contact: To arrange interviews or vision of the planned activities please call Melissa Hamling (Mon-Tues) 6369 3833 / 0417 511 738 or Rachel Buchanan (Wed-Fri) 6369 3832 / 0428 261 899.