Globally viral hepatitis is a major disease burden responsible for an estimated 1.4 million deaths per year, the vast majority of these due to hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In Australia it is estimated that more than 220,000 people are living with chronic hepatitis C infection and more than 200,000 are living with hepatitis B.
The Viral Hepatitis Group works closely with virologists, immunologists and mathematical modellers to improve our understanding of hepatitis C and its transmission, and improving the management and care of people already infected with these viruses. The ultimate aim is to eliminate hepatitis C and B transmission and illness and deaths related to these viruses by 2030.
We conduct innovative studies, working closely with key affected populations including:
- people who inject drugs (PWID), the group most at risk of HCV infection in Australia
- people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the group a most risk of hepatitis B infection in Australia
- men who have sex with men
- the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
Our work aims to reduce disease transmission of these infections and improve the detection, management and health outcomes of people already infected with these viruses.
- To work with key affected populations to improve our understanding of hepatitis B and C transmission, risk, diagnosis and care.
- To establish surveillance systems to accurately measure hepatitis B and C incidence and prevalence in Australia
- Continue to follow cohorts of PWID with or at risk of hepatitis C using a social network approach
- Work with key national and international researchers to develop international cohorts of PWID with hepatitis C
- Work with immunologists and virologists to understand the determinants of hepatitis C primary infection, reinfection and naïve infection
- Work with health services, including The Alfred, St Vincent’s and Royal Melbourne Hospitals and community health services to develop models of care to improve hepatitis C management in PWID
- Work with health services, particularly community health services and general practitioners to improve the identification of undiagnosed hepatitis B, and the management of people with chronic hepatitis B
- Work with key national and international researchers and organisations, including WHO to develop guidelines for hepatitis B and C surveillance, testing, care and treatment.
- Central involvement in the development of the first WHO Guidelines for Screening Care and Treatment in people infected with hepatitis C
- Completion of the Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C (ATAHC), which showed that PWID can be successfully enrolled and retained in HCV treatment and the successful involvement in ATAHC 2.
- The commencement of the Treatment and Prevention Study – the first study globally to examine the feasibility of using a nurse led model of care for hepatitis C treatment of PWID with new direct acting antiviral therapy, using a networks based
- The establishment of the Prime Study - using community based clinics previously established to improve hepatitis care in PWID, we will undertake a trial compared the efficacy of treamtnet in the community compared with a tertiary hospital setting.
- The use of the ACCESS surveillance system to measure hepatitis B and hepatitis C incidence and prevalence.
- The establishment of the Centre for Research Excellence in Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU)