Coronavirus, Hepatitis and Liver Disease

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) has received a lot of media coverage in recent weeks and we understand it can be a worrying time for many, particularly those with chronic health conditions. Hepatitis Queensland would like to reassure our community that we are working with Hepatitis Australia and closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and its impact on our community.

Hepatitis Australia has developed a Coronavirus COVID-19 factsheet to assist those living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, or chronic conditions caused by a previous hepatitis C infection.

Read the full factsheet

COVID-Hep Registry

The University of Oxford has started a universal registry to collect data on patients with liver disease (at any stage) and COVID-19. It takes only 5 minutes to submit a case report.

Submit a case

ASHM Taskforce

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) has created a national taskforce to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, viral hepatitis and other blood-borne viruses (BBVs) in Australia. The taskforce aims to provide consistent and evidence-based messaging to the BBV health workforce, sector partners and affected communities.

Bulletins from the Taskforce are issued weekly on Thursdays, as well as urgent updates when deemed relevant to the sector. If you want to provide feedback or have any questions regarding the Taskforce please email taskforce@ashm.org.au.

Taskforce Links

EASL COVID-19 Toolkit for liver patient associations
This accompanying toolkit provides offers step-by-step advice on: helping patient associations to communicate accurate information about COVID-19 to patients advising on the use of social media and newsletters to make communication with patients easier tips on how advocacy can be used to improve the situation and treatment of liver disease patients.

View the Toolkit

What are the risks of coronavirus COVID-19 for people living with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and/or liver disease?

The following groups could be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19:

  • people with weakened immune systems (e.g. people on immune-suppressing medications, people receiving cancer treatments)
  • elderly people – the risk becomes significantly greater in those aged over 70 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people with chronic medical conditions.

This information suggests some people living with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and/or liver disease could be at greater risk of serious health complications if they become infected with COVID-19. In particular, if you have had hepatitis B or hepatitis C for some time, and/or have developed advanced liver diseases (including cirrhosis) this makes severe COVID-19 illness more likely. This includes people who have ongoing health conditions as a result of a previous hepatitis C infection which has been cured.

What can you do to protect yourself if you have hepatitis B, hepatitis C and or liver disease?

If you have hepatitis B, hepatitis C, advanced liver disease or have previously had hepatitis C, take special care to prevent COVID-19 infection. It is a good reminder to consider asking your doctor for a liver health check if you have not had one in the last six months. Be vigilant and use basic measures to protect yourself against COVID-19 and consult a healthcare provider if in doubt about your risk, especially if you have been around someone who has travelled overseas recently.

People with significant liver disease are recommended to receive vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease. These are funded for people aged 65 and over, and influenza vaccine is funded for all people with chronic liver disease. It is a good idea to make an appointment with your GP to discuss vaccination now. If you are a smoker, Cigarette smoking also increases the risk of severe respiratory illness, and quitting smoking may reduce your chances of complications due to COVID-19.

If you are currently taking treatment for hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or other chronic conditions, it is recommended to ensure you have an adequate stock of your medication to reduce unnecessary visits to health services or pharmacies.”

If you have any concerns please contact a healthcare provider, particularly if you are feeling unwell or have been in contact with someone who is feeling unwell.

GP visits via video

It may be possible for you to attend non-COVID consultations with your GP or specialist via video. This may be available for people living with viral hepatitis and liver disease who are:

  • aged over 70
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50
  • living with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised
  • parents with new babies and people who are pregnant
  • isolating at home on the advice of a medical practitioner.

Please check with your GP or specialist if they are offering this service.

We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

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