Wellington man Darren Ellwood likes statistics because they show how badly Hepatitis C is cutting a swathe through Australians and as an ambassador for the disease in the central west he is urging the Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, to take notice.
“Out here in Wellington, Dubbo, Lightning Ridge we still have little understanding of the blood to blood problems caused by Hepatitis C and the numbers tell a dire story if we don’t act,” Mr Ellwood said.
“We desperately need the government to approve the drugs boceprevir and telaprevir, these need to be listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. They will save thousands of lives and save the tax payers up to $2 billion a year.”
More than 220,000 people are living with chronic Hep C in Australia, with 50,000 of those people living with moderate to severe liver disease he explained.
“Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver disease in our country and the cause of more than 300 deaths each year, these drugs could have saved them,” he said
“The drugs will reduce treatment duration and with side effects severe and debilitating.”
Mr Ellwood is endeavoring to move around cities like Dubbo and the smaller towns in our region to sell the message and put the pressure on the Minister he says.
He is also concerned with the Indigenous population as 8.3 per cent have Hep C.
“I have talked with elders in the central west and they have been very supportive and we are working together to get the message out,’’ he said.
Mr Ellwood is talking with schools and services clubs across the region “and virtually anyone else who will listen about this”.
“People get very edgy when you talk about Hep C they believe it to be a sexual disease, it’s not. It’s transferred by blood to blood injection or transfer,” he explains.
“I originally got Hep C from a mistake following an accident and was injected with bad blood. It can happen to anyone.”
Mr Ellwood can be called on 0447 697 897 his email email@example.com and he is urging people to support him on his face book page where people can sign a petition to urge action from the federal government.