Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus can cause both acute and chronic infection, ranging from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks to a serious lifelong illness that may cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer or liver failure if left untreated. In Australia, the main route of transmission of the hepatitis C virus is through injecting drug use. While there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection, new treatments can cure hepatitis C in more than 90% of cases.
In 2017, there were a total of 10,537 new cases of hepatitis C infection in Australia. The overall rate of hepatitis C diagnoses in Australia has declined slightly by 18% between 2008 and 2017, with the rate for 2017 the lowest in the last 10 years. The hepatitis C notification rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 4.4 times as high as in the non-Indigenous population in 2017.
At the start of 2017, there were an estimated 199,220 people living with chronic hepatitis C in Australia, however this number reduced to an estimated 182,283 at the end of 2017, thanks to the availability of hepatitis C treatments. Access to these highly effective hepatitis C treatments led to a six-fold increase in the number of people receiving treatment between 2013 and 2017, with the greatest increase occurring between 2015 and 2016 (four-fold increase).
You can explore the hepatitis C data from Australia in the interactive graphs below.
Scroll down to read the interpretation of the data and to download the full version of the report.