Things to know about taking treatment for hepatitis B

hepatitis-B

Not everyone diagnosed with hepatitis B requires medication. The decision for treatment is based on test results obtained through regular liver monitoring by doctors. Therefore, regular liver monitoring (six monthly for most people) is crucial for your doctor to make informed decisions. For detailed information about the tests needed for regular monitoring, please refer to our B Health Booklet at www.eccq.com.au/bbv.

Hepatitis B is caused by hepatitis B virus. The virus can infect people mainly through blood contact (also mother to baby and sexual contact). Hepatitis B medication can reduce hepatitis B virus in the body. If you are required to take medication, it is essential to strictly follow the prescribed dosage and schedule as directed by your health care providers. This will ensure the medication works properly.

Currently there are 3 different hepatitis B medications available in Australia, namely Entecavir, Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate (TDF) or Tenofovir Alafenamide (TAF). It’s important to note that each medication requires to be taken differently:

1. Entecavir: Take on empty stomach only; You should not eat food for 2 hours before and after taking the medicine. It is easier if you take this medication first thing in the morning and wait for 2 hours to eat breakfast; or take this medication at bedtime after eating dinner 2 hours or longer.

2. TDF: You can take TDF with or without food.

3. TAF: Currently this medication is only available with a private prescription. It is not listed under the PBS Schedule. This means you will have to pay full price to buy this medication regardless of having a Medicare Care or not. This medication needs to be taken with food.

Remember:
• Take one pill every day at the same time.
• If you miss a dose, take the medication as soon as possible when you remember if it is the same day and then take your normal dose the next day.
• Do not take 2 doses at one time or in the same day.
• Do not share your medication with other people, such as your family members or friends. Sharing may cause harm.
• Make sure you do not run out of medications; stopping and starting medications can cause serious problems for your liver and health Discuss with your doctor if you need to travel for a long period of time to make sure you have enough medications for your trip.
• Regular tests (every six months, more often in the first year of taking medication) to make sure the medication is working.
• Let you doctor know before taking herbal or traditional medicines or any other medicines. They may interfere your hepatitis B medication.

Tips:
• If you cannot remember what time to take your medication, set an alarm on your phone or ask your family member to remind you.
• You can buy a day of the week medication box from your chemist and fill it once a week. Or you can ask you chemist to make up a Webster pack, these are very helpful if you need to take other medications at different times.
• You can ask your healthcare providers including pharmacists for a free interpreter if you need language help.
• If you do not have a Medicare Card and would like to access cheaper medication, please contact us for further information.
For more information about hepatitis B please visit our website www.eccq.com.au/bbv. You can email us at health@eccq.com.au

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