VHHITAL

VHHITAL is the Victorian HIV and Hepatitis Integrated Training And Learning program.

What is VHHITAL?

VHHITAL delivers comprehensive education and training for the primary health care workforce for the diagnosis, treatment and management of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections (STI).

It includes the provision of training and certification for practitioners who prescribe highly specialised drugs administered under Section 100 (S100) of the National Health Act 1953.

The program aims to:

    • improve the capacity of the general practice workforce to screen, treat and manage HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and STIs
    • improve alignment of general practitioners with priority populations and areas of high prevalence for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and STIs
    • improve access to community testing and prescribing for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and STIs
    • improve networking opportunities for prescribers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5RJ3xfwk1U
GPs: join the s100 prescriber community and help beat HIV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyheC6HNwpA
VHHITAL's response to the Victorian syphilis epidemic

Education and training

VHHITAL training is delivered throughout Victoria. To find out about upcoming events, sign up to the VHHITAL mailing list by emailing vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, or see the events calendars below.

View upcoming NWMPHN events

View the statewide BBV and STI events calendar

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VHHITAL courses build your knowledge one step at a time.

Essentials, or introductory courses, are delivered by topic experts and experienced educators to help you to get started. Advanced courses explore more complex presentations, treatment, contact tracing, and emerging drug resistance.

Section 100 (s100) prescriber courses are available for all eligible nurse practitioners and GPs who wish to expand their knowledge in HIV and HBV treatment and management, with a path to prescriber accreditation and mentoring at the end of the course.

Our step by step education enables you to start at any point and build skills as you go. You can complete all courses, or select those relevant to you. Each course increases your confidence with blood borne viruses and STIs to make sexual health part of your everyday practice.

Courses

  • STI Essentials for Primary Care

    Before attending the STI courses, we recommend you watch the primer videos below to support your learning.

    Over the past 10 years in Victoria rates of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea have all increased, and primary health care practitioners are the key to bringing these epidemics under control.  STIs are not always visible, but can cause severe health problems if left undiagnosed and untreated. 

    This informative and interactive session provides the understanding and tools to confidently manage common STI screening and care, making sexual health a routine everyday part of your primary health care practice. The option of referring complex cases and receiving other supports from the new sexual health sentinel clinics will be highlighted.  

    Learning outcomes: 

    • Improved understanding of sexual health care for young people, pregnant women and other key populations. 
    • Know how to approach taking a sexual history. 
    • Be able to describe the clinical presentation of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis. 
    • Be able to correctly perform comprehensive sexual health screening, including testing for the most common STIs.
    • Manage treatment, contact tracing and, if necessary, referrals using the Health Pathways tool. 

    Format: Online, 2 hours.

    Presenters & Facilitators: Dr Melanie Bissessor, Sexual Health Physician, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.

    Learning Methods: Presentation, case discussion, Q&A.

    Continuing Professional Development: 4 x RACGP CPD Activity/2 x ACRRM PDP points. All participants will receive a certificate of attendance. 

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.
  • Syphilis Advanced Webinar for Primary Care

    Before attending the STI courses, we recommend you watch the primer videos below to support your learning.

    Infectious syphilis has significantly increased in Victoria over the past decade. There were 298 cases in 2010 but the rate is now close to 2,000. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men continue to make up the volume of cases.  

    This course builds on VHHITAL’s STI Essentials course and provides skills and resources for primary health care practitioners to confidently implement guideline-based management of patients diagnosed with syphilis, improving patient outcomes. Course numbers are limited to maximise participation in the case study discussions.  

    Learning outcomes: 

    • Understand and reinforce that sexual health is everyday routine business for primary care. 
    • Describe the clinical presentation of primary, secondary and latent syphilis. 
    • Correctly perform testing for syphilis. 
    • Implement guideline-based management of patients diagnosed with syphilis. 
    • Recap contact tracing and its key role in managing STIs. 
    • Apply learning in case study discussions. 

    Presenters & Facilitators: Dr Melanie Bissessor, sexual health physician, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health.

    Format: Online, 2 hours. 

    Learning Methods: Presentation, case discussion, Q&A. 

    Continuing Professional Development: 4 x RACGP CPD Activity/2 x ACRRM PDP points. All participants will receive a certificate of attendance. 

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • Mycoplasma Genitalium (MG) and Drug Resistant STIs

    Before attending the STI courses, we recommend you watch the primer videos below to support your learning.

    Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) and gonorrhoea are relatively common in Australia. Both have developed antimicrobial resistance in recent years, rendering them increasingly difficult to treat. This course delves into treating them and other evolving drug-resistant STIs. 

    Learning outcomes

    • Define the epidemiology and mechanisms of microbial resistance in sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    • Identify the testing methods for the presence of microbial resistance
    • Discuss treatment options for microbial resistant sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with patients
    • Describe other emerging sexually transmitted infection (STI) resistance possibilities and options for specialist advice and referral in managing treatment.

    Format: Online, 2 hours. 

    Learning Methods: Presentation, case discussion, Q&A. 

    Presenter & Facilitator: Dr Melanie Bissessor, Sexual Health Physician, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. 

    Continuing Professional Development: 4 X CPD Activity points. All participants will receive a certificate of attendance. 

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • PrEP & HIV Essentials for Primary Care

    Pre-Exposure Prophyslaxis (PrEP) is an effective HIV prevention strategy in high demand within the community. On April 1st 2018, PrEP was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as a general schedule s85 item. GPs and nurse practitioners can prescribe it, and community pharmacies are able to dispense it.  

    This session will guide you on which populations the treatment is suitable for, and how to initiate it with ease.

    Learning outcomes: 

    • Describe different HIV prevention strategies​. 
    • Explain different options for PrEP dosing​. 
    • Use the PrEP decision-making tool to manage patients.​ 
    • Explain the effectiveness and appropriate use of PrEP/PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) to patients. 

    Format: Online, 2 hours. 

    Presenters & Facilitators: Dr Matt Penn

    Continuing Professional Development: 4 x RACGP CPD Activity/2 x ACRRM PDP points. All participants will receive a certificate of attendance.  

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • Viral Hepatitis Essentials for Primary Care

    This informative and interactive Viral Hepatitis Essentials training improves the knowledge, skills and confidence of primary health care providers to effectively screen, treat and manage patients with hepatitis B or C. It will assist clinicians to confidently interpret viral hepatitis test results, understand the treatment and referral options for management, and inform GPs and nurse practitioners how to become an HBV s100 prescriber. 

    Learning outcomes: 

    • Describe the role of primary health care in the management of viral hepatitis. 
    • Accurately determine at risk patients and screen for viral hepatitis. 
    • Confidently interpret viral hepatitis test results and discuss the treatment and referral options for the management of viral hepatitis. 
    • Discuss with patients the viral hepatitis treatment options and importance of regular monitoring. 

    Presenters & Facilitators: Dr Lester Mascarenhas, Jacqui Richmond  and Dr Matt Penn.

    Format: Online, 2-hour session. 

    Continuing Professional Development: 4 x RACGP CPD Activity/2 x ACRRM PDP points. All participants will receive a certificate of attendance.  

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • Hepatitis B s100 Prescriber Course

    Advanced level training that enables Victorian GPs and nurse practitioners to effectively diagnose, manage and treat chronic hepatitis B in primary care settings. Successful completion of the training and assessment accredits community-based medical practitioners to prescribe s100 highly specialised drugs for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. 

    Learning outcomes: 

    • Outline the critical role of primary care in the diagnosis, management and treatment of people living with chronic hepatitis B. ​ 
    • Plan long-term care, including guideline-based monitoring and hepatocellular carcinoma screening, for patients with chronic hepatitis B. ​ 
    • Select and prescribe first-line antiviral treatment when clinically indicated. ​ 
    • Identify situations where specialist advice or referral is required. 
    • Integrate principles of person-centred and culturally competent care into hepatitis B management. 

    This course is in high demand and places are limited. By agreeing to register you agree to also gain HBV s100 accreditation, and can commit to attending all the live sessions and course work.

    Format: Online, over 3 weeks. 

    Requirements

    Prior to the course: 

    • Pre-course survey (10 minutes to complete) 
    • Hepatitis B introductory online modules (about 1 hour to complete).

    During the course: 

    • Completion of pre-recorded video modules. Between each webinar, 30-minute video lectures are available for participants to watch in their own time. The interactive webinar activities are based on content these lectures. 
    • Live webinars. Attending three webinars is compulsory for completion of the course and to receive accreditation.  
    • Completion of assignment. One assignment, which contains a case study, must be completed during the course. It takes about 30 minutes.  

    After the course: A post-course online assessment and survey must be completed to become an accredited hepatitis B s100 prescriber. This comprises 30 case-based multiple choice questions.   

    Presenters & Facilitators: VHHITAL has a faculty of specialists and general practitioner trainers for its hepatitis B prescriber course, including Professor Ben Cowie, Dr Nicole Allard and Dr Lester Mascarenhas.  

    Continuing Professional Development: This activity is accredited for 40 RACGP CPD Accredited Activity points, approved for 7 educational activity PDP units and 2 performance review PDP units by ACRRM, and is accredited by ACNP for professional development. 

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • HIV s100 Prescriber Course

    This course is designed to support GPs and nurse practitioners in managing and treating HIV in the general practice setting, providing the opportunity to establish relationships with local specialist services for ongoing mentoring and referral. Upon successful completion of this training and the associated assessment, you may apply to your relevant state department of health for authority to prescribe section 100 drugs for the management of HIV in Australia.  

    This course is in high demand and places are limited. We kindly ask that you only register if you intend to gain HIV s100 accreditation and can commit to attending all the live sessions and the course work. 

    Learning outcomes: 

    • Describe the principles of initiation of antiretroviral therapy.
    • Evaluate the complexity of factors influencing patients’ treatment decisions.
    • Develop a clinical management plan for a patient on therapy, incorporating strategies for health promotion and harm minimisation.
    • Describe the contributing factors to the development of treatment toxicities and antiretroviral resistance.
    • Identify appropriate referral pathways for complex HIV issues including salvage therapy, women considering pregnancy and IRIS.

    Format: Online, over 4 weeks. 

    Requirements:

    • Pre-course activity. Multiple choice questionnaire (mandatory, taking about 8 minutes). 
    • Introduction to HIV online learning modules. Self-paced online learning modules (mandatory, about 3 hours). 
    • HIV Prevention, video module. Online video presentation (mandatory, about one hour). 
    • Australian PEP (post-exposure prophylaxisGuidelines. Pre-reading in preparation for week one case discussion (optional, about one hour). 

    During the course: 

    • Completion of pre-recorded video modules. Each week, video lectures lasting between 1.5 and 2 hours will be available for participants to watch in their own time. The interactive webinar activities will be based on content from these lectures. 
    • Live webinars. Attending of 4 live webinars is compulsory for successful completion of the course.
    • Completion of assignments. Two 30-minute case study assignments must be completed during the course. 

    After the course: A post-course online assessment comprising multiple choice questions must be completed to become an accredited HIV s100 prescriber. 

    Presenters & Facilitators: VHHITAL has a faculty of highly experienced specialists and general practitioner trainers for our HIV s100 prescriber course, including Dr Olga Vujovic, Dr Matt Penn, Dr David Griffin and Professor Jenny Hoy.  

    Continuing Professional Development:  This activity is accredited for 40 RACGP CPD Accredited Activity points, approved for 7 educational activity PDP units and 2 performance review PDP units by ACRRM, and is accredited by ACNP for professional development. 

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • Hepatitis C for Nurses and Midwives

    This free facilitated online training course by VHHITAL and ASHM provides nurses with the knowledge and confidence to increase screening and management of hepatitis C in primary care settings. The training is for nurses and midwives working in VIC and ACT.

    Learning outcomes

    • Describe risk factors for HCV, enabling discussions with patients around prevention
    • Discuss HCV serology to identify opportunities for screening, testing and linkage-to-care
    • Explain the nurse’s role in providing culturally appropriate care, free from stigma and discrimination, to people from priority populations
    • Explain the nurse’s role in the management of chronic HCV, advanced liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma
    • Outline strategies for supporting patients with medication adherence.

    Learning objectives align with the Australiasian Hepatology Association (AHA) Practice Standards for the Hepatology Nurse (2015) and the AHA Consensus based Nursing Guidelines (2019). The course is also endorsed by the AHA.

    Format: Online. The course is run over two days, each consisting of a 3 hour session 9.30am-12.30pm.

    Target Audience: Nurses and Midwives working in sexual health services, public and private medical clinics, refugee and migrant services, correctional facilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services, drug and alcohol services, mental health services, and youth services.

    Presenters & Facilitators:

    • Dr Jacqui Richmond, Burnet Institute
    • Shauna Hall, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

    Continuing Professional Development: 6.5 CPD Hours

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.

  • Hepatitis B for Nurses and Midwives

    The course will provide nursing and midwifery professionals with advanced practical skills and knowledge in hepatitis B nursing.

    The course includes presentations and case discussions that introduce the epidemiology and natural history of hepatitis B; vaccination; testing; fibrosis assessment; advanced liver disease; stigma and discrimination and the cultural context of hepatitis B nursing and midwifery.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Outline the epidemiology of hepatitis B and the risk factors for hepatitis B transmission.
    • Identify opportunities for screening and testing, vaccination and linkage to care
    • Outline nurses’ and midwives’ role in providing culturally appropriate care, free from stigma and discrimination
    • Outline the nurses’ and midwives’ role in identifying, diagnosing, assessing, monitoring and treating patients with chronic hepatitis B and advanced liver disease.
    • Utilise innovative strategies and models of care that deliver care for patients with hepatitis B.

    Course components:

    This course will be presented as a mix of self-paced and live facilitated learning, providing attendees an opportunity to discuss and practice strategies with peers and specialists. This is comprised of:

    • Online learning modules
    • Video modules
    • Two 4-hour interactive webinars via Zoom

    This course is endorsed by ACN according to our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Endorsed Course Standards. This activity, including all required pre-course and post-course work is allocated 10 CPD hours according to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia – Continuing Professional Development Standard.

    Australian College of Midwives CPD Endorsed Activity. 

    Target audience:

    Nursing and midwifery professionals working with patients at risk of or living with hepatitis B based in Vic.

    Presenters & Facilitators:

    • Dr Jacqui Richmond, Burnet Institute
    • Gabrielle Bennett, St Vincent’s Health Australia
    • Phoebe Trinidad, Latrobe Community Health Service

    Continuing Professional Development: 10 CPD hours

    To register your interest contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, with subject line: ‘EOI (name of course)’.


Decriminalisation of sex work and impacts to GP practice

There is a long history of sex work stigma and discrimination. The Centre for Social Research in Health’s 2020 Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project, showed that 91% of sex workers report having had negative experiences in accessing healthcare and 31% of healthcare workers report enacting negative behaviours toward sex workers.

These figures highlight the importance for increased awareness and education, to remove barriers to sex workers accessing healthcare, for sexual health, mental health and all other health needs. 

VHHITAL is delivering a suite of courses aimed at GPs and primary health clinicians, supporting clinical practice in primary care, AoD and mental health settings. This training will build the capacity of participants to understand their responsibilities under the new legal framework.

This 2-hour CPD-approved training provides GPs and nurses with an understanding of sex workers health needs, identifies the common misconceptions and avoidable stigmatising attitudes in health services, and puts forward achievable changes to clinical practice to provide the best possible care to all patients within the new legal framework. 

This session is co-designed by the Victorian HIV and Hepatitis Integrated Training and Learning (VHHITAL) and Vixen and is funded by the Victorian Department of Health. 

Register here


Training primer to help curb STIs in Victoria

Before attending the STI courses, we recommend you watch the primer videos below to support your learning. These videos highlight the issues, signs, symptoms, tips, treatment and management of common STIs as part of everyday practice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E15xvgQ2uEs
Getting to know chlamydia and Mycoplasma genitalium in general practice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0xFRU9D8Kk
Getting to know congenital syphilis in general practice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m66hvygBRew
Getting to know gonorrhoea in general practice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UuUYvbbN_4
Congenital syphilis: responding to the Victorian Chief Health Officer Alert

Referral and support

  • Hepatitis B and HIV Community Prescribers

  • Hepatitis C Integrated Nurses

    Victorian Integrated Hepatitis C Services: Nurse-led models of care

    The Integrated Hepatitis C Services deliver a range of services that align with The Victorian hepatitis C plan 2022–2030 to:

    • Increase treatment and care
    • Increase testing
    • Reduce stigma and discrimination
    • Increase prevention

    Services include:

    • Consulting, mentoring and capacity building for health professionals
    • Outreach, including co-locating clinics in established services and individual client outreach
    • Education and training
    • Fibroscan clinics

    Guiding Principles for Victorian Integrated Hepatitis C Services

    There is no one model of hepatitis C integrated care. The Integrated Hepatitis C Services work in a diverse range of health care settings, institutions, and contexts. These principles were identified in partnership and collaboration with the Integrated Hepatitis C nurses and seek to provide a shared approach to nurse-led models of hepatitis C care.

    Download the Guiding Principles (.pdf) to learn more about how the nurses approach hepatitis C testing, treatment, care and working in partnerships.

    Referral form

    Referring patients to one of the Integrated Hepatitis C Services is easy. Do not hesitate to make contact and refer directly to a nurse from the contact list below. To assist, a referral form can be downloaded here (.pdf).

    Integrated Hepatitis C nurse contact list

    Contact one of the integrated nurses to discuss how your service/organisation can work in partnership, or refer people for treatment. Click here for a list of contacts (.pdf).

    Hepatitis C data summaries by Primary Health Network

    The Hepatitis C data summaries for Victorian Primary Health Networks (.pdf) are an excellent resource to understand the needs of your local area and its demographics. They detail national treatment uptake, notification and geographic data, prevalence, treatment uptake and newly diagnosed cases for each Victorian PHN.

    Communities of Practice

    VHHITAL provides administrative support for the Integrated Hepatitis C nurses to meet quarterly to network, undertake joint projects to build system linkages to care in community settings and establish partnerships to deliver hepatitis C services.  The focus is on nurse-led models of care. This by invitation only network is known as the Integrated Hepatitis C nurses Community of Practice. Expressions of interest in joining the group can be sent to vhhital@nwmphn.org.au, and will be taken to the group for discussion.

    Further information

    Contact VHHITAL for more information, or your local/closest Integrated Hepatitis C nurse directly.

  • Hepatitis C resources

  • Best practice guidelines

    STI testing and management advice has changed. All STIs can cause disease without producing symptoms. Please refer to Populations & Situations for asymptomatic screening recommendations, Syndromes for guidance about managing specific clinical scenarios and to STIs for specific management of a diagnosed infection.

    See updated guideline here.

  • Join a Community of Practice

    Communities of Practice (CoP) provide opportunities for learning, networking and collaboration for all primary health care practitioners. See the BBV/STI calendar for dates.

    The STI CoP is facilitated by Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and affiliated general practices.

    To find out more or to register your interest click here or contact the VHHITAL team at vhhital@nwmphn.org.au

  • Online learning modules

    A free online learning portal containing an extensive library of self-paced courses from ASHM.

    View online modules

Consortium partners

The consortium brings the skills and resources of clinical subject-matter experts, research expertise, program development and accreditation, training and education for health professionals, and expert knowledge of the health needs of Victorian living with, or at risk of contracting blood-borne viruses (BBV).

The program is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and is delivered and managed through a consortium comprising of North West Melbourne PHN (NWMPHN), the Australasian HIV, Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine Society (ASHM), Alfred Health, and the Doherty Institute.