Dr Stephen McNally, Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, said volunteer recruits would help provide the medical profession and service providers with a better understanding of why treatment uptake is low.
‘Today, World Hepatitis Day, is about bringing the disease out of the shadows and understanding why people with hepatitis C do not take up anti-viral treatment.’
Hepatitis C is a major public health problem with over 200,000 Australians living with the disease. While treatment is available, only 1-2% of people with chronic hepatitis C infection receive treatment each year. The cost to the Australian health care system is estimated to be over $9 billion.
Dr McNally said the Charting Health Impact study showed that the main reasons for going on treatment were due to future health concerns (79%) or they were following doctor’s advice (58%).
Of those people with the virus, 62% said they were often worried about their future health and 68% of respondents noticed a negative impact on their ability to work or study.
‘Given these findings it is perhaps surprising that treatment uptake remains low,’ said Dr McNally.
However he said that the study also revealed that for those people who have never had treatment just over half said that they were concerned with side effects, with 37% saying that they are waiting for new treatments.
‘While treatment success rates are improving dramatically, 27% believe treatment success rate is still too low and too many barriers exist which are stopping people from starting treatment,’ he said.
Joining the Study involves taking an anonymous survey online at www.chistudy.org.au