Hepatitis B and C (26.11.2013)

Written on the 28 November 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- Approximately 55 000 people in Victoria are living with chronic hepatitis B and around 65 000 people live with chronic hepatitis C.

These figures equates to almost 2 per cent of the population. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are like any other chronic illness; they require management and have significant health implications. Both forms of hepatitis can lead to serious liver disease, including primary liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. Liver transplants are one form of treatment for liver failure, with significant ongoing health treatments. Notwithstanding the costs to the individual with hepatitis, the total financial cost of liver disease -- including productivity impacts, informal care, program costs et cetera -- was estimated to be around $5.4 billion in Australia alone in 2012.

Hepatitis B immunisation programs commenced in Victoria in 1998 and have had an impact in protecting Victorian-born babies. However, due to our increase in immigration, rates of hepatitis remain high. Nafisa Yussuf was born in Somalia and immigrated to Australia as a child. She believes she contracted hepatitis B from her mother at birth. Nafisa is living her life to its fullest, as many people with hepatitis do. However, there still remains a stigma and discrimination within our community about carrying either virus.

On Saturday I signed up and became a Hep Hero. I launched the Hep Hero campaign on behalf of the Minister for Health at Federation Square. The Hep Hero pledge is a simple message asking everyone to speak out against discrimination, stigma and judgement; to support those affected by viral hepatitis so they can live happy and healthy lives; and to be part of the solution and help raise awareness to achieve the goal of no new infections in Victoria. I urge all members to support the efforts and also to take the pledge.

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