Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that can cause a chronic infection of the liver. Infection can lead to long-term liver damage requiring liver transplantation and hepatocellular carcinoma, both of which can be fatal. For many years there was not an effective treatment for hepatitis C that didn’t require prolonged treatment with major side effects. Since March 2016 new direct-acting antiviral hepatitis C treatment has become available through Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This treatment is fully funded under the PBS for all patients with hepatitis C infection and the treatment can be administered by general practitioners and nurse practitioners as well as medical specialists. 

It is now possible to eliminate hepatitis C infection from Australia, but to do so requires very high treatment rates including those people who are most at risk of passing the infection on to others. So far, in spite of the availability of the drugs, we are not achieving treatment rates that are high enough in order to eliminate the infection.

Our research focuses on treatment of difficult to reach patients in the General Practice, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Community and Prison settings.

Associate Professor Linda Selvey is the chair of the Queensland Hepatitis C Elimination Working Group, which is an informal group put together to coordinate hepatitis C prevention and treatment activities around Queensland, and to advocate for more resources where required. Associate Professor Selvey is joined on the working group by fellow UQ researchers Dr Andrew Smirnov and Professor Charles Gilks.