Hepatitis C and Injection Drug Use in Australia
"Approximately 83 per cent of HCV infections have resulted from unsafe injecting drug use practices. In Australia in 2006 it was estimated that approximately 264,000 people had been exposed to HCV and had HCV antibodies with around 197,000 living with chronic hepatitis C. The estimated number of new cases of HCV infection has declined from 16,000 per annum in 2001 to 10,000 in 2005. The majority (65 per cent) of people with HCV are aged between 20 and 39 years and 35 per cent of national notifications of HCV are in women.
"While 25 per cent of HCV infections clear spontaneously within two to six months 75 per cent develop into chronic infections. Chronically infected persons will continue to be able to transmit the virus including those who experience no noticeable illness or symptoms. After 20 years, between 5 and 10 per cent of infections will have resulted in cirrhosis of the liver, with 2 to 5 per cent progressing to liver failure or a form of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma."
Victorian Department of Human Services (2010), National needle and syringe programs strategic framework 2010-2014, Commonwealth of Australia, pp. 11-12.