Maori Accent Will Help Eliminate Hepatitis C

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A national symposium on hepatitis C heard that prioritizing Maori is key to eliminating the virus.

A national symposium on hepatitis C heard that prioritizing Maori is key to eliminating the virus.

Health and community service providers from across the motu gathered at FMG Stadium in Hamilton this week to share updates and thoughts on hepatitis C in Aotearoa.

The Department of Health’s National Hepatitis C Action Plan has set a 2030 target to eliminate the blood-borne virus which causes liver inflammation and can lead to liver cancer if left untreated .

Clarence Kerrison, a gasenterologist at Waikato Hospital, said the plan needed to focus on building whanaungatanga and trust, including Maori from the start of the process, understanding bias and giving more resources to Maori patients compared to non-Maori.

The action plan’s program director, Gavin Hooper-Newton, says the plan will not only help eliminate hepatitis C, but could also provide the health sector with a framework to apply to other issues. health issues such as hepatitis B, diabetes and HIV.

About 45,000 New Zealanders are living with the virus, and half of them may not be aware they have it due to symptoms that have not shown for years, and in some cases even decades.

Risk factors for hepatitis C include drug use with needles, amateur tattoos, time spent in prison, receiving medical treatment in a high-risk country, blood transfusion before 1992, or being born to a mother with hepatitis C.

It can now be treated with the prescription drug Maviret, with most people cured within eight weeks.



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