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‘Hidden disease’ focus of parliamentary inquiry

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The prevention, prevalence, detection and cost of hepatitis C will be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry amid concern it is a serious but badly overlooked health issue in the community.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health has announced it will hold public hearings with medical experts and community support in Melbourne in late January as part of an investigation aimed at determining the extent and cost of the debilitating illness and gauging the best way of tackling its spread.

Committee Chair, Liberal MP Steve Irons, described chronic hepatitis C as “a hidden disease”.

Mr Irons said that around 230,000 people lived with chronic hepatitis C, but only around 1 per cent received treatment, putting many at risk of liver failure.

Chronic hepatitis C can lead to liver inflammation and scarring and, if left untreated, may result in liver cancer and shutdown.

The inquiry will examine the prevalence of hepatitis C and options for its early detection and treatment, as well as the costs it inflicts on the community.

It will hold public roundtable meetings in Melbourne on 21 and 22 January, 2015.

For more details, visit: www.aph.gov.au/HepatitisC

Adrian Rollins