NSW HEPATITIS INFOLINE

Feeling better is the new normal after hep C treatment

Feeling better is the new normal after hep C treatment

Feeling better is the new normal after hep C treatmentGren, one of our Community Peer Speakers, has written a guest blog post about his experience of living with and being cured of, hepatitis C.

CW: refers to historical cases of stigma and discrimination

I was diagnosed with hep C in 1990. A routine blood test found that I had an abnormal liver function and another test found I had been exposed to hep C. Back then they couldn’t test to see if I still had live virus in my blood, so it was assumed that I had an active case of hep C. After the doctor gave me the results, he just said, “you have hepatitis C, you should see a specialist” – and that was the extent of his counselling.

The reality of being diagnosed with hep C

Following the diagnosis, I went home a bit shocked and sad, however my partner and family were nothing but supportive, which helped me enormously.

It was early days for hep C treatments, and I opted to do an experimental treatment that took six difficult months and ultimately didn’t work for me (or hardly anyone else, for that matter).

With that ordeal behind me, since I still had hep C, there was nothing much I could do about it so I carried on with my normal life and tried to live as healthily as I could. I ate my veggies, got exercise and didn’t drink much alcohol. I stayed in touch with the various doctors and got very familiar with the good people at Westmead Hospital and Hepatitis NSW, who all helped me with information and news about hep C.

In the past, I’ve described myself as a ‘promiscuous discloser’, although that’s not entirely accurate. I immediately disclosed my hep C status to all my close friends and relatives, but after that I only disclosed to people, I was getting medical support from and others I trusted, and even then, only if I thought it was appropriate.

I’ve been able to disclose to every employer

In a number of ways, it has been easier for me than others living with hep C – I know I’m not a “stigma magnet”. I’m Anglo, straight, older (now), middle class and highly educated. I’ve been able to disclose to every employer I’ve worked with since 1990, and to everyone that’s involved in my life. I haven’t had to hide who I am. I have been fortunate.

While I haven’t been a major victim of stigma or discrimination, I once sat opposite a General Practitioner who said they, “hated ‘junkies’…” and that, “they were a waste of space”. So apparently, if they’d seen me when I was 20 they might have thought I was “a waste of space” too. Needless to say, I never went back to that doctor.

It was a drag knowing that I had the virus inside me, knowing that even though the risk was low that I could unintentionally infect my wife and family. Also knowing that my liver was slowly being damaged and that I couldn’t get rid of the virus, weighed on my mind.

I’ve done treatment three times. In 1991, I took part in the aforementioned phase 3 clinical trial for six months. It was pretty bad, but I was still able to work. In 2006, I did Pegylated Interferon Combo therapy with Ribavirin. It was horrible. 48 weeks of feeling like I had the flu, and the treatment didn’t get rid of the virus either. Finally, in 2016, I tried one of the new direct acting anti-viral therapies (Viekira Pak, which has since been discontinued because there are now even more effective treatments available). For me, it was 12 weeks of very mild side-effects.

I was still able to carry on my life as normal while on treatment for hep C

As everyone says, the new treatments are easy to do and very effective. The one I took has been discontinued, but the replacement treatments have even fewer side effects and treat all genotypes. Despite the few side-effects I did experience, I was still able to carry on my life as normal while on treatment. By the end of it I already knew I was cured.

Going to see the doctor three months after finishing treatment – to find out for sure that it worked – was one of the best days of my life. I had been trying to get rid of the virus for the last 25 years and when he told me I was cured I realised I had finally done it. I laughed and cried when the doc told me and, even though neither of us were the hugging type, we both shared a little hug. I was in such a happy daze that I started to leave without paying. The doc did remind me though, and I asked how much he wanted. He could have asked for, and got, nearly anything from me, but he only asked for my Medicare card. Wow.
Even today I sleep better, I feel better. A few years after being cured, feeling better is the new normal.

Learn more about hep c by getting in contact with our Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990,
or download one of our free online resources.

Published 30 June, 2020

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Hepatitis NSW believes Black Lives Matter

Hepatitis NSW supports and stands with the Black Lives Matter movement

Black Lives Matter

It is an absolute tragedy that it takes yet another death of a black person at the hands of law enforcement for the world to engage in a discussion about racism. It is a damning indictment on all our societies that it requires deaths to be filmed and shared on media platforms for us to be moved to action.

Any rational, objective and humanist analysis would say that discrimination of any sort is flawed – it creates unnecessary division; perpetuates oppression and disadvantage; diminishes society and culture; and imposes huge imposts economically at the individual and societal level.

In an Australian context, it is essential that we don’t just observe and focus on the American experience highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. We must recognise, acknowledge and accept the institutional racism that exists in our own backyard. To this end, it is devastating that a recent Essential Poll show that almost 80% of Australians believe Americans are correct to demand better treatment for African Americans in their society – but only 30% believe there is institutional racism in Australian police forces.

There have been at least 437 deaths recorded since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody ended in 1991. A 2019 report also indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are now more likely to be in prison than African Americans. The research shows that over the past three decades, the share of Indigenous adults in prison has more than doubled, from 1,124 per 100,000 adults in 1990 to 2,481 per 100,000 adults in 2018.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are incredibly resilient, having lived on, thrived and cared for this country for over 60,000 years. Because of the ongoing impacts of colonisation and institutional racism, we now see that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians.

In relation to our own area of health focus, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are disproportionately affected by both hepatitis B and hepatitis C, with considerable variation by geographic region.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up 3% of the Australian population. In 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were estimated to make up 6.3% (around 14,277 individuals) of the 226,612 Australians living with chronic hepatitis B. We are committed to working towards rectifying this stark inequity.

People affected by the criminal justice system and viral hepatitis include people who are in custody as well as their children, partners, friends, family, and a networked life outside of prison. The prevalence of hepatitis C is estimated at 30% among the 14,000 people in NSW prisons and at 60% among those who inject. Being in prison is a risk factor for hepatitis C exposure.

There is no current estimate of Indigenous hepatitis C population prevalence, although 2007 modelling estimated there were between 13,000 and 22,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living with hepatitis C. Each year, it is estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples constitute at least 11% of newly reported cases of hepatitis C. Infections in people aged under 25 years were six times higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than for non-Indigenous people (12.2 per 100,000).

If we are to move forward as a nation we must recognise the roles we each play and the systems we uphold that make this the reality of life in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people. First Nations people. This is not acceptable. We can do more. We must do more.

We will not be complacent. We will not be complicit.

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Hep C: The virus, and the fear, are gone

The virus, and the fear, are gone

Image: Eyüp Belen | Pexels | bit.ly/3e9xIy6

Susan, one of our Community Peer Workers, has written a guest blog post about her experience of living with and being cured of, hepatitis C.

Living with hep C had given me a growing sense of dread; the fear of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer intruded more and more into my thoughts. Fortunately, just as things looked like they might be taking a turn for the worse, hope appeared in the form of an effective new treatment. This is my story.

How I was diagnosed with hep C

I had been a healthy teenager and young adult, full of energy. During the 1990s, my energy started to wane. I was in my thirties so, at first, I thought I was just getting older. But it got worse. The doctor was puzzled, said I might have “chronic fatigue” and sent me for a raft of tests. This is what led to my hep C diagnosis.

I adjusted to living with hep C, but my liver started to get worse

My life began to revolve around having hep C, the consciousness of it ever present in my mind. I adjusted to living with hep C by moving to a low-fat diet, with no alcohol and lots of rest. Overall, at the time, I was doing well. My liver function test (LFT) results showed only a slight elevation in level for a number of years. I clung to the hope that I would be one of the few people who lived with hep C and wouldn’t develop a serious illness.

Interferon was the only option for treatment in those days, and I decided against taking that. I was working and also caring for my young son. Other than the tiredness, I didn’t feel sick and I couldn’t afford to be laid low with the side-effects that were common with interferon. Plus, as I told myself, the interferon “probably wouldn’t work” as it hadn’t for many people.

At some point though, my liver test results started to get worse. My LFTs were climbing and the nausea every morning was increasing. I started reading more about hep C and began to worry about developing a serious illness. That dread became an ever-present fear that dominated my life.

How treatment turned my life around

Then, a few years ago, I read an article about new, easy to take hep C treatments that had a high cure rate. I talked to my doctor, who was encouraging and prescribed Epclusa. The pre-treatment screening tests however, had made me anxious. I worried they’d find I had cirrhosis or cancer. Fortunately, the fibroscan results showed I had nothing as bad as that, although I did have fatty liver disease.

I started the Epclusa treatment, still full of trepidation about side effects. My regular morning nausea waned after only six weeks of treatment, and I began to have more energy. After all that worry, there were no side-effects at all during the 12 short weeks of treatment.

The day the doctor told me my post-treatment result – “no virus detected” – was one of the best days of my life. Then the follow up result. Again, “no virus detected”. I started to live life differently. My everyday activities didn’t change but my energy levels did and so did my attitude. I no longer thought of myself as a person who might start to die soon. I made long-term financial plans. I stopped living one day at a time.

Curing my hep C was one of the best decisions I have ever made

Getting treatment for, and curing, my hep C was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Living with hep C, for me, had been a life full of fear and isolation. Living without hep C has given me a new life with hope for the future.

Life is better, now the fear is gone.

Published 23 June, 2020

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Hepatitis B was no barrier to having a baby

Hep B no barrier to having a baby

Image: Adobe Stock

Amanda, one of our Hepatitis Speakers, has written a guest blog post about her experience of living with hepatitis B. 한국어로 읽기

I did not understand what effect hepatitis B would have on the rest of my life

I first found out that I had hepatitis B when I was a student at high school in South Korea. Since I was only then a teenager, I did not understand what effect hepatitis B would have on the rest of my life. At that time, hep B information was not well disseminated to people in my country, so my family vaguely thought it had to do with having unhealthy livers. Unfortunately, it was much worse than that and, because of hepatitis B, I lost my grandmother, my aunt and, finally, my father.

I didn’t know much about the virus or how it was transmitted

After school, I went to college and studied Early Childhood Education. Although I was able to complete the course, it was believed there was a possibility my hep B virus could be transmitted to children, and I was not able to become a kindergarten teacher. This was very upsetting, and I had to find a different kind of work. After much searching, I discovered I was interested in – and good at – baking, so I eventually got a job in a bakery. Even so, I was still worried about transmitting hepatitis B. As I mentioned, I didn’t know much about the virus or how it was passed on, and I was concerned about making and handling food. If only I’d known then what I know now, I would not have worried as much!

I worried a lot and feared that my baby might also get hepatitis B

A few years later, I moved to Australia, met my loved one here, got married and, last year, had a beautiful son.

While I was expecting, I worried a lot and feared that the baby might also get my hepatitis. Fortunately, the hospital staff knew better. They gave me special care, continuously monitoring and managing my hep B, along with my pregnancy.

On the day my son came into the world, the midwife and the nurse put him, still covered in blood, on my stomach so he could feel my warm skin. But I screamed at them “Don’t you know I have hep B? Please go and give him his injection right now!” I needn’t have panicked though. They explained the first immunoglobulin injection, for a newborn baby of a mum with hepatitis B, can be done within the first 12 hours. After I spent a short while with my little boy, the nurses took him, washed him and gave him the injection. It was then I was happily able to hold him in my arms.

A baby who has a mum with hepatitis B will need a total of four vaccine injections

Raising a baby has not been easy. The doctor has told me that even a mum with hepatitis B can breastfeed her baby, but I have still been a little nervous while breastfeeding him. I am most mindful of blood. When I had a wound once, I put my son far away from me and treated my bleeding carefully.

A baby who has a mum with hepatitis B will need a total of four hepatitis B vaccine injections. At birth, then in six weeks, in four months and, finally, in six months. My son has finished all four but has not yet been tested for antibodies as he is not one year old. I am optimistic that his body has generated antibodies and immunity against hepatitis B since we have done everything we needed to. We are waiting for good news, but I cannot help but still be a bit anxious.

Because I am raising a baby, I have become more cautious about others too. I know that I cannot pass on hep B through casual contact, but I now ask parents of babies about vaccinations and hep B status. I do not want them thinking or saying that their child could get hep B from me.

I am proud to see my son grow up healthy

I am proud to see my son grow up healthy and without any major problems. I will make sure that I have regular monitoring of my liver every six months and am hopeful of a long healthy life with my loving family.

For any person living with hepatitis B, I would say to them that you can monitor your liver function every six months. You will only ever have to take medication for hep B if recommended. By doing this you can live as well as people without the virus. It is good for your peace of mind!

Published 20 May, 2020

Amanda has excitedly notified us that her one year old son now has antibodies against hepatitis B. That means he is immune to hep B for life. Congratulations, Amanda and your son! Your vigilance and proper knowledge has paid off!
[25 May, 2020]

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What is World Hepatitis Day?

What is World Hepatitis Day? On July 28 every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World Hepatitis Day, a global alert around viral hepatitis. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment are promoted through free hepatitis testing screenings, information campaigns, entertainment, media engagement and vaccination drives.

Why recognise World Hepatitis Day?

Millions of people worldwide are affected by viral hepatitis, with tens of thousands dying every year. Of greatest concern are hep B and hep C – two viruses that can become life-long chronic conditions, eventually leading to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and, all too often, death. A significant percentage of people living with hep B or hep C are unaware they have it. Even where people know their status, hundreds of thousands are unable to access healthcare, treatment, or cure. World Hepatitis Day is an important event to highlight these issues and drive better outcomes.

Why is hepatitis still a problem?

Around the world, the toll on liver health and the number of deaths caused by hep B and hep C varies sharply from country to country. Some countries are much more able to address viral hepatitis for their people. Poorer outcomes are due to poverty, social inequalities, inadequate information, stigma and discrimination, struggling public health systems, ineffective government policy and/or the lack of political will. Despite advances in medicine and treatment, there is no single easy solution for eliminating hep B and hep C.

How does Australia compare?

Fortunately, in terms of elimination of viral hepatitis, Australia is one of the leading countries in the world. Australia has strong health policies, programs, campaigns, and services as part of an effective strategy to address viral hepatitis.

How is Australia addressing hepatitis C?

For hep C, all Australians over the age of 12 have access to effective and affordable direct acting antiviral (DAA) cures. Treatment is available through local doctors. There are services, such as Needle Syringe Programs, that help reduce risk of transmission. Community organisations and government agencies work to raise awareness of the cure and help people into and through treatment.

How is Australia’s strategy to address hepatitis B performing?

For hep B, while there is currently no cure, babies born in Australia are vaccinated against it; also, any adult who needs to be vaccinated can be. Testing is available and encouraged for anyone from an at-risk group. Should a person be found to be living with hep B they can have regular monitoring of their liver health, and, if required, treatment to manage their viral load.

What is the impact of hepatitis-related stigma and discrimination?

is doing well but there are still issues of stigma and discrimination which prevent or deter people from accessing testing and treatment. Many people remain unaware of the lifesaving treatment options available to them. Myths and misconceptions about transmission and treatment persist in some communities.

Are we ensuring equal access to health services and programs?

While health services are usually easily accessible for most people in the capital cities, that is not the case for regional and remote communities. Poverty and disadvantage significantly impact the ability of too many Australians to access services. The lack of Needle Syringe Programs in prisons leads to greater hep C infection and re-infection rates amongst prisoners. These areas, and others, need work if Australia is to succeed in eliminating viral hepatitis.

How is World Hepatitis Day observed in Australia?

Across Australia, the day is supported by many government agencies, non-government organisations, clinicians, researchers, and communities. They might hold events, education sessions, display banners or posters, or talk to the media. Hepatitis organisations, similar to Hepatitis NSW, exist in every state, territory and federally; World Hepatitis Day marks a particularly busy time of campaign work, and community and stakeholder engagement for us.

In addition to World Hepatitis Day, New South Wales holds Hepatitis Awareness Week over the seven days leading up to and including July 28. This is sponsored by NSW Health and allows community organisations, Local Health Districts (LHDs), and prison clinics across the state to highlight hep C and hep B oriented messages, services and events for their respective communities.

Unfortunately, for 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic will overshadow World Hepatitis Day and NSW Hepatitis Awareness Week. At this stage we cannot say for certain which events or campaigns and services will be promoted in late July. Keep an eye on our social media, events calendar and The Champion for regular updates.

A final thought

Viral hepatitis exists year in, year out, and World Hepatitis Day itself isn’t going to be a cure-all, nor is it meant to be. July 28 acts as a focus for international and local efforts in elimination – to applaud the successes, to highlight existing need, and advocate for changes.

Hep facts

  • July 28 celebrates the birthdate of Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus.
  • World Hepatitis Day is one of only eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • There are currently five different hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D, and E. Each one can significantly impact liver health and, in some cases, lead to death. In Australia, only hep B and hep C are significant community issues.
  • Hepatitis D – which only occurs in people with advanced cases of hepatitis B – and hepatitis A, and hepatitis E – both mainly transmitted via faecal contamination in water, or unwashed hands – are all rare in Australia.

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Kirby Institute releases report on progress of hep C elimination in NSW

Kirby Institute releases report on progress of hep C elimination in NSWThe uptake of direct acting antiviral (DAA) hep C treatments in New South Wales has meant there is a promising prospect for achieving the goals of reducing the incidence of hep C infections and deaths, according to a recently released report from the Kirby Institute.

The Hepatitis C Elimination in NSW: Monitoring and evaluation report 2019 identifies progress towards elimination in New South Wales. It has been developed to report against state, Australian, and global strategies. Specifically, the report looks at the progress made by New South Wales in improving the testing, treatment and uptake of preventative measures for hep C. Reductions in the occurrence, incidence and deaths associated with the virus are also covered.

Positive and encouraging signs

In addition to the positive outlook for elimination of hepatitis C, the report found that unrestricted access to treatment – which is provided for by the PBS guidelines – has resulted in a very broad community uptake. There are indications that people who might be at higher-risk (that is, people who are also usually more marginalised) have had a higher uptake than the broader population of people living with hep C.

According to the report, there is evidence that stable “hep C risk behaviour” and high initial treatment uptake is leading to reductions in new hep C infections. Furthermore, the number of people with advanced liver disease, which had been growing before the arrival of the new cures, is now on the way down.

Stigma and discrimination still an issue

Despite these encouraging findings, the report notes there are relative gaps for some hep C sub-populations in service and impact measures. There are still high levels of stigma and discrimination and lower treatment uptake in many of the areas of the community. Notable areas of stigma and discrimination are among women, people born overseas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; especially where there has also been recent drug use or recent imprisonment.

The road ahead

Hepatitis NSW welcomes the report’s findings and, while it offers considerable encouragement that elimination of hep C in NSW is possible, it still highlights a number of areas that require continued effort to address shortfalls. Hepatitis NSW will continue to work with our community and all other stakeholders to ensure the elimination of hep C in NSW.

To read more and to download the report >>>CLICK HERE

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Changes to PBS for hepatitis treatment mean better and easier access to cure

Changes to PBS for hepatitis treatment mean better and easier access to cureChanges to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from April 1 will benefit a number of community groups affected by viral hepatitis.

Age restriction eased

Firstly, younger Australians – those over 12 years of age – are now able to access direct acting anti-viral (DAA) medication to treat hep C. While a relatively small percentage of the population living with hepatitis C, these many young Australians were still understandably keen to be cured of the virus. It is very good news that the age restriction for under 18s has now been changed.

Genotype testing

Another change sees the removal of mandatory genotype testing. In the early days of DAA treatment, when the medications could only treat specific hep C genotypes, it was important for specialists and treating GPs to know their patient’s genotype; that way they could prescribe the correct treatment. Pangenotypic DAAs (which work regardless of genotype) have been available for some time now and the requirement for genotype testing added an unneeded extra step for people wanting to start treatment.

Nurse Practitioners

Finally, Nurse Practitioners (registered nurses with authority to work in an extended clinical role) can now prescribe s100 medicines in the care and management of people living with HIV and hep B in the community, and also hep C in corrective services settings. As with the other changes, this removes potential obstacles or hurdles to starting treatment for many people, especially those living with hep C and in prison. Hepatitis NSW already has great partnerships with many nurse practitioners across the state (through, for example, our peer work and the Clearing The Path campaign) and this PBS change will further improve the impact of our work.

Hepatitis NSW is very pleased to see these changes and looks forward to assisting the various communities who will benefit. We will be updating our resources and information as necessary.

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Coronavirus COVID-19 factsheet for people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C

COVID 19On 12 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus COVID-19 a pandemic. For people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, this is what you need to know about COVID-19 and how you may be affected.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019.

How does Coronavirus spread?

The virus can be spread from person-to-person through:

  • close contact with someone who has the virus
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, then touching your face.

You can download posters about COVID-19, developed for Aboriginal communities, like this one about Good Health and Hygiene and more posters here.

Coronavirus in Australia

To date, COVID-19 has remained relatively contained in Australia, with the majority of cases being a result of overseas travel. However, the large amount of media attention given to the virus can make it hard to separate fact from fiction.

Will COVID-19 mean any change to my treatment and care for hepatitis B or hepatitis C?

People living with hepatitis B or C who are currently taking treatment should not change or stop their treatment unless advised to do so by their treating doctor. People should be aware that recent changes restricting prescriptions to a one-month supply of medications means ensuring you plan and avoid missing doses. There is nothing to suggest that the availability of medications used for hepatitis B or C will be reduced due to COVID-19.

Monitoring your health will continue to be important and access to doctors may vary. Some clinics are establishing telephone consultations but making appointments in advance will be important. You should check with your healthcare provider to see what arrangements they are putting in place. If you have an appointment with your doctor it is good to consider asking your doctor for a liver health check if you have not had one in the last six months.

Hepatitis C and hepatitis B… and COVID-19

Information suggests some people who have been living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C for some time, and who have developed advanced liver diseases (including cirrhosis) could be at greater risk of serious health complications if they become infected with COVID-19. This includes people who have ongoing health conditions as a result of a previous hepatitis C infection which has been cured. We’ll update this advisory as more information becomes available.

The factsheet, available below, contains information on COVID-19 for people affected by viral hepatitis, including information about how to reduce the likelihood of infection. The key message is to be vigilant and use basic measures to protect yourself against COVID-19. Consult a healthcare provider if in doubt about your risk, especially if you have been around someone who has travelled overseas recently.

Some people living with existing chronic conditions could be at greater risk of serious health complications if they become infected with COVID-19. To help people living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, or chronic conditions caused by a previous hepatitis C infection, Hepatitis Australia has put together a factsheet.

View the factsheet [updated March 20, 2020] >>> CLICK HERE

Contact the Hepatitis Infoline 1800 803 990 speak to someone about how Coronavirus/COVID-19 might affect you if you have hepatitis B or C.

Other links

To find your nearest COVID-19 Assessment Clinic >>

Preventing Coronavirus Outbreaks in Aboriginal Communities Factsheet>>

For psychological, online support aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (bulk billed) read this flyer >>

For (national) information about COVID-19 please see HealthDirect.gov.au >>

For (NSW) information about COVID-19 please see NSW Health.gov.au >>

For localised information about COVID-19 please see your local NSW Local Health District website >>

Symptom checker - COVID-19

Regarding clinical attendance via video-consultations in Australia

It might be possible for you to attend GPs and specialist clinics – such as Liver Clinics and Gastro Clinics – via video – please check with your GP or specialist.
For gastrointestinal and liver patients this applies to people considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus:

  • at least 70 years old; or
  • at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
  • is pregnant; or
  • is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
  • is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised.
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Bev Tyson wins 2019 Hepatitis NSW Cheryl Burman Award

Margie Crowley, Bev Tyson, Kerry Walker

Bev Tyson (middle) with Margie Crowley (left) and HNSW Project Officer Kerry Walker (right)

Hepatitis NSW is delighted to announce that Ms Bev Tyson is the 2019 winner of our Annual Cheryl Burman Award, which acknowledges outstanding work or achievements by an individual or team in NSW within the viral hepatitis sector.

Bev is a committed, highly respected advocate, community leader and clinician. Bev (pictured right (with Margie Crowley, left)) has led and developed the Dubbo Sexual Health Service into a high performing team, delivering outcomes through clinical excellence and innovative services to at-risk communities across a large catchment area. She has attained specialist competencies and used these to pursue extensive and wide-ranging partnerships in health promotion and clinical services that extend the role and reach of her work.

Highly respected by Aboriginal and non-Indigenous clients, staff and services, Bev provides an important link to Aboriginal people for services that are traditionally difficult to access due to shame, stigma, and discrimination. She challenges the status-quo of service delivery models to challenge problems, particularly where it relates to remote areas. Bev achieves her goals by harnessing her personal commitment, values, and respect for the community, as well as her quiet determination, energy and initiative.

Hepatitis NSW congratulates Bev, and thanks all nominees for this year’s award. Once again, the applications we received demonstrated strong leadership and initiative in the sector.

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Albury Hep C Elimination campaign

Over 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.

 

Sussan Ley,MP for Farrer, and Albury local Steve Frost

What does our Hep C Elimination Campaign involve?

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.

Why Albury, why now?

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.

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