LETTER: Hepatitis is a silent illness among society

Last month I attended and spoke at a presentation held by Hepatitis Victoria in Mildura. It was a workshop to inform about hepatitis that effects about a thousand people in Mildura and about 9000 across the Loddon- Mallee.

Viral hepatitis, particularly hepatitis B and C are potentially life-threatening conditions that can affect the liver. It can be effectively treated, even cured in the case of hepatitis C.

Unfortunately there is a lack of awareness of the condition and a stigma attached to it and the majority of people who have hepatitis don’t even know or they ignore the fact that they have it. Consequently, some find out too late.

In Victoria, about six people die every week of hepatitis related causes, more than the state’s road toll. Liver cancer, which can be one of the results of hepatitis, is the fastest growing form of cancer in Australia.

Many health professionals believe there is a general apathy or lack of understanding about viral hepatitis. Health professionals who attended the Mildura workshop were keen to learn more about this disease and to get the message out to the community.

What you can do as a community member is to ask your doctor for a blood test for hepatitis. Remember, you may have it and not even know. There’s usually little or no charge for the blood test because it’s on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme.

The Victorian Government wants to eliminate hepatitis B and C by 2030. To reach this goal more awareness is needed, so they are running workshops like the one I attended. The message was clear: Do something positive for your health and get a blood test.

Simon Clemence,

Mildura Mayor