Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : January 10, 2017 Edition Contents PAGE 16 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2017
230,00 Australians have
Hepatitis C (HCV) infection.
10,000 new cases occur per year.
A very effective new treatment for Hep C using new drugs called 'Direct-acting
Antivirals' (DAAs) is now available in Australia. These new drugs are available
on the Medicare pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) and can be prescribed
by GPs who have a sound knowledge of the assessment and treatment steps.
Unlike previous treatments for HCV, such as Interferon and Ribavirin, these
drugs do not require injection; they seldom have significant side-effects and in
many scenarios only require 12-week courses as opposed to 24 or more weeks
for the old injection regimens.
The GP would follow these steps:
1. A blood test to see if patient has ever been exposed to HCV (HCV antibody)
2. If positive, a further blood test to confirm current infection (about 20% of
people exposed to HCV will clear the virus without treatment)
3. If positive, there are further blood tests to determine the viral load (how much
of the virus does the patient carry); the genotype (which strain of the virus is
present); to assess liver function plus a scan or blood test to see if liver fibrosis
or cirrhosis has developed.
4. Check that the planned treatment is compatible with any prescribed or non-
prescribed medications the patient is taking
5. Advise the patient to minimise other causes of harm to their livers, such as
alcohol intake, exposure to other hepatitis viruses and certain other
medications & supplements.
Based on this information, the GP would then determine the choice of
medications and the duration of treatment (usually 12 weeks, occasionally
longer e.g. 24 weeks and sometimes, but less often, shorter i.e 8 weeks). During
and after treatment, there would be some monitoring which involves
consultations with the doctor and further blood tests. Some 12 weeks after
treatment a blood test is done to determine if the person has been cured ( this
test looks for a Sustained Virologic Response). Patients who are cured are no
longer infectious to other people and do not suffer ongoing harm to their livers
from the virus. However, they must take care to avoid becoming re-infected by
exposure to the virus (in particular, by avoiding injecting drugs, and taking care
if choosing to have tattoos).
Patients who have had a previous failed response to earlier Hepatitis C
treatments, such as Interferon, and patients who have evidence of advanced
liver fibrosis or cirrhosis, would still need to be referred to a specialist. In their
case the treatment choices become more complex and may include injections,
longer treatment duration, and ongoing surveillance after treatment, even if
curative. However, the new drugs (sometimes in combination with ribavirin
and/or interferon) still offer a high chance of eliminating the virus in these
Liver fibrosis can lead on to cirrhosis of the Liver, a very serious condition which
carries a risk for liver failure and which may cause bleeding from the gut. In
severe cases it may result in fulminant liver failure and death and it also poses a
risk for developing Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a nasty cancer of the liver.
Eliminating HCV, avoiding other viral hepatitis (eg by vaccinating against
Hepatitis B), avoiding obesity, and avoiding other liver toxins such as alcohol,
Black Cohosh, Aloe Vera, and excessive use of analgesics such as Paracetamol,
reduces the risk of fibrosis or cirrhosis progressing to these more serious
Better Health Channel (2015) New Drugs for the treatment of Hepatitis C -
Frequentlyaskedquestions for patients
Hepatitis Australia (2016) Treatment for Hep C
Chen J Eta al (2008) "Liver failure associated with the use of Black Cohosh for
menopausal symptoms", in Medical Journal of Australia 2008, 188 (7) 420-
US National Institute of Health (2016) National Library of Medicine, Drug
Record: Aloe Vera (ALOE BARBADENSIS)
42 Murray Street, Wonthaggi
25 a’Beckett Street, Inverloch
New Treatments for
Hepatitis C Infection
By Dr John Hackett MBBS, FRACGP,
DA (UK), Dip Obs
(Article courtesy of Wonthaggi Medical Group, 42 Murray St, Wonthaggi)
Don’t risk the rip this summer
IN A bid to combat the ongoing issue of
drowning deaths along the Australian coast-
line, Surf Life Saving Australia has launched
a sobering safety campaign highlighting the
serious dangers of rip currents – and accord-
ing to figures, young men are most at risk of
losing their lives.
‘The Facts about Rip Currents’ campaign
will bust some common myths associated
with beach safety and will run across nation-
al television, radio, newspapers, outdoor, on-
line and mobile media ahead of summer.
These myths include the perception that
it’s only tourists who get caught in rips, that
rips only take the lives of poor swimmers, or
that competent swimmers know how to spot
According to research:
• Only 15 per cent of people who drown in
rips are international visitors.
• Young men aged 15-39 years are most
likely to get caught and drown in rips.
• Two out of three people who think they
can identify a rip, can’t.
Rips are the number one danger swimmers
face when enjoying a day at the beach and
surprisingly, more people drown in rips each
year, than deaths from shark attacks, floods
and cyclones combined.
Shane Daw, Coastal Safety Manager at Surf
Life Saving Australia, said the campaign is
predominately targeting men who think they
already know how to spot and escape a rip.
“All too often young men have an attitude
of over- confidence and run into the waves
before checking to see what the ocean condi-
tions are doing,” Mr Daw said.
“They get into trouble because they either
haven’t checked for rips, can’t identify a rip
and underestimate the strength of these cur-
rents, they swim after patrols finish or at un-
patrolled beaches. ”
With this in mind, Mr Daw advised it’s re-
ally important that people know what to do
if they find themselves caught in a rip. There
are three options:
• Raise an arm and call out for help, or
• Float with the current, it may return you
to a shallow sandbank, or
• Swim parallel to the beach or towards the
breaking waves, you may return to shore.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, re-assess
the situation and try one of the other options.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s clear message
this summer is ‘Don’t Risk the Rip’, a mes-
sage echoed by Bass Coast Shire Council
Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield.
“ We had many tragedies on beaches in Bass
Coast over the past year, and we don’t want to
see any more lives lost.
“I can’t emphasise strongly enough how im-
portant it is to never swim in dangerous con-
ditions, no matter how strong a swimmer you
may be, and to always have someone looking
out for you – never swim in the ocean alone, ”
Cr Rothfield said.
“If in doubt, ask a surf lifesaver about an
alternative place to swim and, where pos-
sible, swim at a patrolled beach between the
red and yellow flags.”
To find out more information about rips,
Kate Hemming and Meghan Minogue from Office Choice Leongatha with a sample of the
work the new printer can produce. N020217
Go large with your
plans and photos
WHETHER you’re a builder who needs plans
printed for the work site, or a holiday maker
who’d like to reproduce that perfect photo on a
much larger scale, Office Choice in Leongatha is
where to go.
Office Choice, part of the newsagency, has
just acquired a new Canon printer, capable of
printing A0 size images on a range of materials,
whether its canvas or Tyvek.
Such is the technology of today; even images
taken on a smartphone can be blown up to such
All you have to do is email the image to the staff
at Office Choice, and they can do the rest.
Files around the 3MB (three megabyte) range
will reproduce well on such a large scale.
The new printer is ideal for large promotional
signs, including the telescopic portable advertis-
The Tyvek materials used is waterproof and
fade resistant for months.
There’s no turnaround either. The printing can
be done instantly at the Copy Centre.
To find out more, drop in and chat to the Of-
fice Choice printing expert Kate Hemming at the
RIGHT: The Canon A0 printer arrived just
before Christmas and is proving popular with
a wide range of customers. N030217
THE RUBY Fire Brigade, together with
the Korumburra Fire Brigade, will team
up for a special fire demonstration at the
Coal Creek Farmers’ Market this Saturday,
The burn demonstration will show just
how easily certain materials can ignite,
both in domestic and bushfire situations.
It will be an interactive demonstration
with the tanker on site too, so the kids
might get a chance to use the hose.
It’s also the perfect opportunity to ask any
questions you might have about your own
Fire demo at Coal Creek
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