New Zealand, world leader in HCV research, is finally on track towards elimination

Our team is over the moon that treatment for all genotypes have been available since 1 February 2019. Simplifying access means we can now concentrate on awareness, reducing stigma, and encouraging testing.

Many people have worked getting Aotearoa, finally, to this point. We have led the world in many ways but not in treatment access. The first trial results of DAA’s came from our outstanding New Zealand researchers; Professors Ed Gane, and Catherine Stedman’s pioneering work. I want to thank Pharmac for listening to submitters like me, and experts, in negotiating a price we can afford, to treat everyone.

I would like to note the voluntary work of the facebook page Hepatitis C New Zealand, long term unsung efforts there keeping us all informed, and I would also like to thank the NZ Society of Gastroenterology Specialists. This organisation has played a big part in our global advocacy. The patient focussed, pragmatic inclusion of the generic option of FixhepC for genotypes 2-6, in the official guidelines, when we only had funded medication for genotype 1, has had far reaching effect in encouraging doctors, to ‘follow the science’ and help their patients get treatment. It has often been urgent, as in my case. Many lives have been saved as a result. Systems have changed.

Now we are in the era of elimination; such exciting times as we have the first opportunity in around 60 years to see the end of a world top 5 infectious killer. Hep C Action will be playing our part, promoting the butterfly as the international symbol of hep C, to erode stigma.