Australia: Aboriginal Hepatitis C rising, prompting calls for improved services

As rates of the disease decrease among Australians overall, Hepatitis C is three times higher and rising in Indigenous populations.

Mainstream medical services are failing Aboriginal communities, where the rate of Hepatitis C is rising, a peak Aboriginal health body has told a federal Senate inquiry.

A public hearing in Sydney on Thursday heard submissions from stakeholders, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho), which called for improved access and funding of medical services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As rates of the disease decrease among Australians overall, Hepatitis C is three times higher and rising in Indigenous populations, according to a 2013 study by the Kirby Institute. The worsening problem is mainly due to higher rates of unsafe drug injecting and possibly higher rates of incarceration, where the prevalence of intravenous drug use is much higher among Indigenous prisoners, according to multiple studies.

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