How the hepatitis C cure is helping patients reclaim their lives

How the hepatitis C cure is helping patients reclaim their lives


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An estimated 182,000 Australians live with Hepatitis C, but the future for these individuals is now brighter with new treatments offering a cure and symptom free life.

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This is sponsored content for Hepatitis Australia.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, it's natural to feel uncertain or nervous. Currently, an estimated 182,000 Australians live with the blood borne virus, but the future for these individuals is now brighter. Hepatitis C can be cured, and many people who previously suffered are now living pain and symptom free.

One such individual is Perth local Pete Townsend, a 54-year-old Australian who is now living free of hepatitis C thanks to new medicines that can cure 95 per cent of people in 8-12 weeks with just 1-2 tablets a day, and few side effects. Pete's journey to health has been a lifelong commitment, starting in the early 1980s when he contracted HIV.

Despite losing many friends and fighting to overcome countless stigmas, Pete says that it was his exposure to the best and worst of human behaviour that contributed to him becoming the person he is today. After relocating to London in the late 1990s, many of Pete's friends began to fall ill with hepatitis C, a reality that he says felt like a whole new epidemic.

In 2004, Pete was diagnosed with hepatitis C. His partner also tested positive, but the couple chose to wait for a reliable treatment.

It's got a higher than 95 per cent success rate, has little or no side effects. Just go for it, do it without question! - Pete Townsend

"The only available treatment at the time was the Interferon regime, which was much like chemotherapy, with hideous side effects and only a very small percentage of success. In the UK it was less than 50 per cent, but even those who successfully cleared the virus were often left with serious depressive illnesses, shattered immune systems, and a host of other health problems.

"[So] my partner and I opted to wait to see if improved medicines would come through. The new treatments available now are easy [to use], side effect free for the most part, and they cure over 95 per cent of people," Pete said.

After losing his partner to a rare form of cancer in 2017, Pete commenced treatment for hepatitis C. By this time new and more effective medications were on the market, and are now available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to people over the age of 18 who hold an Australian Medicare card.

His treatment specifically involved a 12-week course of two tablets per day. Despite grieving the loss of his partner, as well as his mother and two friends in the months after, Pete handled this new treatment with relative ease.

"The hep C treatment did give me mild nausea and insomnia, but these side effects subsided after the first few weeks. It was really a very easy regime of medication, which was a blessing considering all the trauma I was going through," Pete said.

Prior to treatment, Pete had endured decades of Polyarthropathy symptoms, pain in his joints, and off-the-scale fatigue. All symptoms related to his pre-existing HIV condition were also exacerbated, including severe nausea and depression.

Since completing his hep C treatment and being cured of the virus Pete says the difference in his wellbeing has been incredible, and he feels more energetic and hopeful for the future.

"Within three months of treatment, I was not only cured of hep C infection, but my physical wellbeing was so markedly improved I just have no words fitting to describe the difference," Pete said.

When asked what advice he would give to someone who has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, Pete said that patients should not hesitate to go ahead with the new treatment.

"It's got a higher than 95 per cent success rate, has little or no side effects. Just go for it, do it without question!" Pete said.

In addition to his own spiritual beliefs and the support of his friends and local hepatitis organisation to help him on his ongoing journey to health, Pete acknowledges he would not have been able to imagine a life of hope if he had not undergone the new hepatitis C cure.

If you or someone you love could be living with or at risk of hepatitis C, speak to your GP about getting tested.

For more information on hepatitis C and how to get cured visit Test Cure Live or phone the National Hepatitis Info Line on 1800 437 222.

This is sponsored content for Hepatitis Australia.

The story How the hepatitis C cure is helping patients reclaim their lives first appeared on The Examiner.

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