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Sickle cell disease in Australia: a snapshot from the Australian Haemoglobinopathy Registry.

BACKGROUND: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common monogenic disorder worldwide. In deoxygenated conditions, the altered beta chain (haemoglobin S [HbS]) polymerises and distorts the erythrocyte, resulting in pain crises, vasculopathy and end-organ damage. Clinical complications of SCD cause substantial morbidity, and therapy demands expertise and resources. Optimising care for patients and planning resource allocation for the future requires an understanding of the disease in the Australian population. The Australian Haemoglobinopathy Registry (HbR) is a collaborative initiative of specialist centres collating and analysing data on patients with haemoglobin disorders.

AIMS: To provide a snapshot of SCD in Australia over a 12-month period based on data from the HbR.

METHODS: Patients with a clinically significant sickling disorder across 12 clinical sites were included for analysis. Data include demographic and diagnostic details, as well as details of the clinical management of the condition over a 12-month period.

RESULTS: Data on 359 SCD patients demonstrate a shift in the demographic of patients in Australia, with a growing proportion of sub-Saharan African ethnicities associated with the HbSS genotype. Acute and chronic complications are common, and patients require significant outpatient and inpatient support. Prevalence of disease complications and therapeutic trends are in keeping with other high-income countries.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first national picture of SCD in Australia, describing the characteristics and needs of SCD patients, elucidating demand for current and novel therapy and facilitating the planning of services for this vulnerable population.

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