Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQs)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Until 1 March 2016 a combination drug-therapy of pegylated interferon and ribavirin was used in the treatment of hep C. However the types of medicines used in hep C treatments have undergone radical changes. A range of treatments are available now and these treatments provide higher cure rates (95%), shorter treatment times, and fewer side effects. The new treatments are often just a few pills every day for 8-12 weeks.

 

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It is important to regularly check the health of your liver. It is also always a good idea to speak with your doctor, liver specialist, treatment nurses, and family members or friends. Unlike the previous treatment for hep C, treatment today does not interfere with your everyday life. Hepatitis ACT can provide support and additional information to assist you.

 

Click here for more information about treatment for hepatitis C

If you are living with chronic hep B or C, the most important thing you can do for your own health is to have regular liver health check-ups with your doctor or liver specialist. Making lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, and cutting back or stopping drinking and smoking can reduce the impact hep B or C will have on your liver and your quality of life. Don’t forget, there are now effective treatments for hep C.

 

Click here for more information about treatment for hepatitis C.

Click here for more information about liver health monitoring and treatment for hepatitis B.

Click here for more information about living well with  hepatitis.

The most important thing you can do is to be supportive. Find out as much as you can about hep B or C and remember that hep B and C are heavily stigmatised conditions. If your relationship allows, you might encourage the person to consider relevant lifestyle changes to help reduce the risks of liver disease. Very importantly, do not share information about your relative or friend’s condition with other people unless you have permission to do so. Hepatitis ACT can provide support and additional information to assist you.

 

Click here for more information about living well with  hepatitis
Click here for more information about stigma and discrimination

Telling somebody that you have hepatitis B or C can be overwhelming and the decision to disclose in most circumstances is up to you. Legally there are only four situations in which a person must disclose:

  1. A health worker who performs exposure-prone procedures is required to notify their employer
  2. A member of the Australian Defence Force, or a person wanting to join, is required to declare health status with respect to disease, illness or injury
  3. A person wanting to donate blood must disclose
  4. Some insurance policies require the disclosure of any infections, disabilities or illnesses that might influence the insurance company’s decision to insure

Click here for more information about Who needs to know 

If you think you have been in contact with hep C an antibody test, which is a simple blood test and can be completed 12 weeks after exposure. Testing for antibodies before the 12 week period can provide unreliable results. If the results show the presence of hep C antibodies, a second blood test (PCR test) is required to check if the person has the virus as well as the antibodies. Around 25% of people who are exposed to hep C manage to clear the virus without treatment.

 

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Your local doctor is able to arrange the necessary blood tests. Other options in the ACT ­include:

  • Alcohol and Drug Service (Canberra Hospital) for clients of the Opioid Treatment Service
  • Canberra Sexual Health Clinic (Canberra Hospital)
  • Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT, and
  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
  • Directions Health, Cosmopolitan Centre, Woden Square, Phillip

Click here for more information about hepatitis B testing

Click here for more information about hepatitis C testing
Click here for more information about other services

People will have hepatitis C antibodies if they:

  • are chronically infected (i.e. living with hep C)
  • have been infected but cleared the virus without treatment, or
  • have cleared the virus through treatment

The presence of hep C antibodies does not always mean a person has hep C. When someone has been exposed to hep C, their immune system develops antibodies. This can take up to three months (a ‘window period’) following exposure. The presence of antibodies indicates that the person has been infected with the virus at some point. A second blood test (called a PCR test) is required to check if the person remains infected. Around 25% of people who are exposed to hep C manage to clear hep C without treatment.

 

Click here for more information about testing

Speak to your doctor about vaccinations. Other options in the ACT include:

  • Alcohol and Drug Service (Canberra Hospital)
  • Canberra Sexual Health Clinic (Canberra Hospital)
  • Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT, and
  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
  • Directions Health, Cosmopolitan Centre, Woden Square, Phillip

Click here for more information about other services

Whilst there are transmission risk factors associated with household living (e.g. razors, toothbrushes), the chance of infecting your child with hep C is minimal. Although there are cases of HCV transmission from an infected mother to her newborn infant, these are uncommon. Less than 6% of pregnant mothers with hepatitis C will pass it on to the infant.

 

Click here for more information about preventing household transmission
Click here for more information about women, children and hepatitis C

There is no evidence to show that hep C can be transmitted from a father, through his sperm, either at conception or in the womb. There is no increased risk that the baby will be born with the virus if both partners have hep C.