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Hep C to be 'cured within a generation'

AAP logoAAP 28/07/2016 By Belinda Merhab

Decades went by without Jane Little realising it was hepatitis C that was making her sick and tired.

After years of living with her life on hold, she is now cured of the disease by a new tablet that's become available in Australia for as little as $6 and takes just 12 weeks to take effect.

"It changes your life, it really does," the 63-year-old told AAP on Thursday, World Hepatitis Day.

"Just to be there for my children and grandchildren, to be able to utilise my full potential."

Ms Little clearly remembers the day the Turnbull government delivered her an early Christmas present, announcing in December it would subsidise the $100,000 cure for all sufferers.

"I was actually with my family that day and it was quite an emotional day," she said.

"I was just so overjoyed."

Health Minister Sussan Ley says 5000 Australians are now hepatitis C-free as a result of the government's $1 billion decision to list the treatment on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in March.

About 20,000 sufferers have begun treatment and it's hoped the blood-borne virus will be cured within a generation.

The drugs now cost $38 for general patients and $6 for concession cardholders.

"When I found out as health minister that these cures were available, I wanted to make them available to every single Australian patient - not to pick a cohort that was more sick than another group and start rationing the treatment," Ms Ley told reporters in Canberra.

It comes as the government faces increasing pressure to lift a rebate freeze for GP visits and put more money into public hospitals.

"We listed three times as many medicines as Labor and we will continue to do that without fear or favour," she said.

"I really want to make a very strong statement about this government's determination to continue our record from previously."

Ms Little said after just four weeks of treatment she was bounding with energy.

She now dedicates her time to public speaking and encouraging other sufferers to seek treatment.

Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi. © Provided by AAP Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi.

"It's just so fantastic that the government is supporting equal treatment access for this drug," she said.

"There's a lot of people out there sitting in their rooms that don't even realise the new treatment is there."

It's estimated more than 230,000 Australians live with chronic Hepatitis C, commonly spread by the sharing of drug injecting equipment.

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