NSW HEPATITIS INFOLINE
1800 803 990

Blog

Albury Hep C Elimination campaign

Sussan Ley,MP for Farrer, and Albury local Steve FrostOver November 2019, Hepatitis NSW has been running an advertising campaign in Albury NSW, with some social media cross-over into Wodonga Victoria. This campaign is designed for people living with hep C – largely those over 50 years old who no longer inject, or who never injected – to help raise awareness and mobilise them into hep C treatment and cure.

The campaign is made up of beer-mats in local pubs and clubs; adverts in shopping centres; adverts and take-away cards in public bathrooms; local social media posts; posters and awareness raising activities in public health services including Aboriginal Health Services, NSPs, drug health services, GP clinics, community health clinics and the like.

We chose Albury because a couple of years ago Hepatitis Australia (our national peak organisation) carried out a similar campaign. We want to build on that; and, because Albury is in the federal seat of Farrer, which is held by The Hon. Sussan Ley.

Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) were listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 March 2016, changing the hepatitis C treatment landscape forever. The Commonwealth fully funded these groundbreaking new treatments, with equal treatment access for all people. There were no restrictions at all, and we have Sussan Ley, who was at that time the Health Minister, to thank.

Since then, around 70,000 people of the then estimated 230,000 people who were living with chronic hep C across Australia have accessed the new treatments. Tens of thousands of lives have been saved and livelihoods improved to the greater benefit of our communities.

Forum Speakers: The Hon Sussan Ley MP (Member for Farrer, and Health Minister who had new hep C cures listed on the PBS, 2016), Stuart Loveday (outgoing Hep NSW CEO), Dr Tim Shanahan (Clinical leader and key clinical driver for hep C treatment in the region), Steve Frost (a local with lived experience of hep C and cure), and Alison Nikitas (HARP manager, Murrumbidgee LHD).Hep C Elimination Forum

Hepatitis NSW invited Sussan Ley to present at a forum on 18 November 2019 at the Atura Hotel in Albury. The main purpose of this forum was to generate some free media awareness to add to the paid part of the advertising campaign. We also wanted to thank Sussan Ley publicly for her significant role in enabling the elimination of hepatitis C in Australia by the year 2030.

Speakers included:

  • The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Member for Farrer, currently federal Environment Minister, former Health Minister).
  • Stuart Loveday, the outgoing Hepatitis NSW CEO.
  • Dr Tim Shanahan, a clinical leader, hepatologist, gastroenterologist and key clinical driver for hep C treatment in the region.
  • Steve Frost, a local with lived experience of hep C and cure. He spoke about how cure essentially saved his life.
  • Alison Nikitas, HARP manager for Murrumbidgee LHD, who spoke of programs to get locals treated and cured.

A number of local media outlets were in attendance, and an article about Steve Frost was written and published by the Border Mail. >>>CLICK HERE

We are running this Albury campaign with full support from colleagues in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (LHD) and in Albury Wodonga Health.

Read more

Welcome from Steven Drew, Hepatitis NSW CEO

Steven DrewIt has now been a month since I took up the role of Chief Executive Officer at Hepatitis NSW, and what a month it has been! These last four weeks have been a whirlwind of briefings, meetings, introductions, and vast amounts of learning. Hepatitis NSW staff, and the many community and sector members I have met to date have warmly welcomed me, which I greatly appreciate.

While it was always going to be a challenge, to step in to lead a community organisation as highly effective and successful as Hepatitis NSW, I am determined to carry on the great legacy that has been created by the original founders, staff, and community. I am confident, given the passion, drive and commitment of the Hepatitis NSW Board and staff, we will continue to be successful.

I will be drawing on my many years of knowledge and experience of government, bureaucracy, and not-for-profit member sectors to advocate for programs and resources that will achieve the elimination of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Great progress has already been made in the testing, treatment, and cure of hepatitis C since 2016. However, as we all know, if the goal of elimination is to be achieved, there is still much work to be done to reach, and engage with, the so-called “missing majority” who are living with undiagnosed hepatitis C.

There is also an increasingly urgent need to more vocally advocate for enhanced and sustained action to reduce viral hepatitis infections in NSW, and to improve the health outcomes of people living with hepatitis B in NSW.

Finally, I would like to add my voice to the many others thanking my predecessor – Stuart Loveday – for his sustained effort and great achievements as leader of Hepatitis NSW over more than 20 years. I have had benefit from his knowledge, wit, and wisdom over the last month. I am truly grateful and, along with everyone else, wish him a great retirement.

Read more

Mandatory Disease Testing a futile and stigmatising exercise

Mandatory Disease Testing a futile and stigmatising exerciseHepatitis NSW firmly rejects the premise behind the proposed laws outlined in a joint media release – “Mandatory Disease Testing for Those Who Attack Frontline Workers” – issued yesterday by the offices of NSW Justice Ministers David Elliott, Anthony Roberts, and Mark Speakman.

Hepatitis NSW CEO Steven Drew said, “Hepatitis NSW strongly supports the wellbeing and safety of emergency services personnel. We agree they must be protected as much as possible in a high-level occupational risk environment.”

Mr Drew said, “This proposed Bill will not responsibly address the fundamental issue of risk to frontline workers.”

Any decision on mandatory testing should be based on medical and scientific evidence. The risk and likelihood of transmitting blood borne viruses (BBVs) – hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV – through contact with saliva or spitting is effectively zero. Testing people who have not genuinely placed other people at risk is futile. The emergency worker may, in fact, miss out on health protections due to such a misinformed approach.”

Mr Drew said, “NSW has, until now, had a long and proud history of leadership in bipartisan, evidence-based, considered public policy responses that balance public health and individuals’ human rights. This proposed approach does a disservice to NSW as a national leader.”

Hepatitis NSW is extremely disappointed that this futile policy has been committed to by the government without consulting community organisations with history, knowledge, and experience in BBV responses. The policy will stigmatise communities and people affected by blood borne viruses, and potentially any frontline worker subject to the flawed response. There are no gains to be made for public health nor Work Health and Safety.”

“This is irresponsible and is not conducive to the development of evidence-based, reasoned policy responses,” said Mr Drew. Frontline workers’ work health and safety are best protected by a well-informed risk management approach; this includes vaccination for hepatitis B and, where any blood to blood exposure risk occurs, a rapid assessment and response by medical staff.”

For more information, please contact:

Hepatitis NSW
Steven Drew, CEO
sdrew@hep.org.au
0402 518 285

Read more