A report back from Dr Sunil Solomon - Elimination of hepatitis C in people who inject drugs in low and middle income countries: The Final Frontier; Dr Joseph Doyle - Australian Hepatitis Elimination Scorecard: Progress since the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Conference - The Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference Opening Plenary 

 

As a GP based in Lakes Entrance I provide care to rural and remote areas. Chronic disease management is a major part of the day-to-day work this involves.  Attending the 11th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference produced many lightbulb moments – most notably that some of these diseases are treatable and even curable, as in the case of Hepatitis C.  The two main challenges remain engaging those we know have Viral Hepatitis in treatment and finding those who do not yet know they have Viral Hepatitis. The awareness of chronic infection is relevant both for the new phase of safe and effective cures available for Hepatitis C, and the risks of ignorance of chronic Hepatitis B infection. 

Associate Professor Sunil Solomon presented several inspiring presentations at the conference with energy and enthusiasm.  While acknowledging the difficulties faced in reaching the WHO 2030 targets for 90% reduction in new chronic infections and 65% reduction in mortality from Viral Hepatitis, the projects he has worked on in India are already making an impact. The use of patients as a resource in recruiting their friends and contacts at high risk of blood borne viruses, incentivising return visits, and focus on rapid commencement of treatment to minimise loss to completion and follow up were some of the tools utilised. An untapped resource was also highlighted, that of heavy mobile phone and internet use. The idea that mobile platforms, such as WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram, could be used to raise the profile of Viral Hepatitis and availability of successful treatments may be adaptable to all modern societies. 

 

Dr Joseph Doyle then highlighted the hazards of ignoring the high rates of Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB) in Australia, with around 250,000 suspected infections. The use of new cancer treatments and immunosuppression has raised the risk of reactivation of infection, active liver damage and even death if this issue is not considered at the commencement of cancer treatment.  Highlighting this, the new consensus guidelines support clinicians in identifying who may require treatment and monitoring of CHB while undergoing treatment of their malignancy. 

 

As we move towards 2030, this conference has built my skills and knowledge in being part of the cure for Viral Hepatitis as a global burden of disease. 

 

 

References: 

A/Prof. Sunil Solomon – Management of Viral Hepatitis in Low & Middle Income Countries – Making the best of what we have. August 13th, 2018 

Dr. Joseph Doyle – Hepatitis B Management during Immunosuppression for Haematological and Solid-Organ Malignancies: Australian Consensus Statement 2018 

WHO Combating Hepatitis B and C to reach elimination by 2030 http://www.who.int/hepatitis/publications/hep-elimination-by-2030-brief/en/  

 

 

 

Author bio: 

Dr Darren Irvine is a rural GP working in Lakes Entrance. He has an interest in rural communities, Men’s Health, Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence and exploring the Gippsland Lakes.