An estimated 239,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). About 40 per cent of these people don’t realise they have the virus.
Among those who have been diagnosed, at least 84 per cent are not receiving adequate care. Without access to care and regular monitoring, about 15 to 25 per cent of people living with CHB will die from complications attributed to the disease, such as liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network region has the highest prevalence of CHB and the highest hepatitis B notification rate of all six Victorian primary health network areas. This represents a large proportion of the approximately 63,000 Victorians living with CHB.
Annual notifications of hepatitis B are more than double the Victorian average in the Melbourne, Maribyrnong, Brimbank and Wyndham local government areas.
Liver cancer rates are rising faster than rates for any other cancer in Australia, and liver cancer is the fastest increasing cause of cancer death. Early detection, follow-up and treatment of CHB can slow the progression of the disease towards liver failure, and reduce the chance of a person living with CHB developing liver cirrhosis and HCC.
How can we help?
Education and training
- Victorian HIV and Hepatitis Integrated Training and Learning (VHHITAL) provides free, introductory hepatitis B courses, S100 prescriber courses, hepatitis B professional development, case studies, and courses covering other blood-borne viruses. (Search our events directory for upcoming VHHITAL events in the region.)
- HealthPathways Melbourne has a Chronic hepatitis B pathway with relevant, evidence-based information about testing patients at risk, monitoring patients’ hepatitis B and referrals. (Need a login to HealthPathways Melbourne? Request access here.)
- Free hepatitis B in-service training is available, tailored to a practice’s needs and schedules, and providing information about hepatitis B, including helping patients monitor and manage hepatitis B.
The hepatitis B story is a resource hosted on the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne resources page (scroll down to locate). It supports health workers to chat to patients with low health literacy about chronic hepatitis B and includes videos in different community languages, a clinician’s guide, an A4 teaching tool for health workers, and patient brochures in eight languages. (We may have hard copies of these booklets: please contact us if you are interested.)