Multi-pronged approach to stopping hepatitis

Medical samples
  19 May 2017  NWMPHN   

North Western Melbourne PHN is committing $250,000 to the fight against hepatitis B and C in Melbourne’s north and west. 

The NWMPHN region has some of the highest rates of viral hepatitis in Australia, particularly in Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Hume and the city of Melbourne. Left untreated both hepatitis B and C can cause a range of severe health issues, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. 

Six new projects will improve awareness and access to new treatments and medications, which have the potential to significantly reduce both new infections and health impacts for people already living with viral hepatitis. 

NWMPHN CEO Adj/Associate Professor Christopher Carter said the projects each respond to clear needs, such as the initiative to upskill secondary needle and syringe program (NSP) workers to raise awareness of new treatments for hepatitis C.  

“Secondary NSP workers in community health provide 41% of needles and syringes to people who inject drugs (PWID) and are a critical point of contact with health services for this group,” A/Prof Carter said. 

“The project will support workers to communicate effectively with PWID’s around safe injecting practices and disease transmission, and to raise awareness of new treatments that have up to a 95% cure rate for most people living with hepatitis C.”  

The project, operated by Pennington Institute, will also train workers on how PWID can be screened and access treatment for hepatitis B and C. 

Other new projects include: 

  • St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne: The production of an educational hepatitis C resource for people from culturally diverse/low health literacy backgrounds. 
  • St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne: Collaborating with the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, St Vincent’s Hospital’s second project will deliver training workshops to health workers, multicultural sector workers, refugee health workers and settlement workers. 
  • Hepatitis Victoria: World Hepatitis Day public media campaign to improve hepatitis B and hepatitis C awareness in north and west Melbourne. 
  • Hepatitis Victoria: Training for pharmacists, and front of house pharmacy staff, on hepatitis B and hepatitis C, to help pharmacy staff encourage clients to seek testing and treatment. 
  • Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health: Identifying GP clinics who see a high number of patients at risk of hepatitis B for tailored in-service education and support. 

NWMPHN congratulates the successful organisations and thanks all those who submitted project plans. If you or your organisation is interested in any of the above projects, please contact us on (03) 9347 1188.