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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
0402 518 285

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World Hepatitis Day – addressing stigma and discrimination faced by people with viral hep

It’s never easy being sick. Sometimes it can be even harder than it needs to be, particularly when people are dealing with additional challenges such as stigma and discrimination that come with a diagnosis of their illness. This is very much the case for blood borne viruses (BBVs), including viral hepatitis. While the community has progressed a great deal in reducing the level of discrimination attached to people who are affected by HIV since the emergence of the virus in the 1980s, there is still much work to be done in supporting people who are impacted by blood borne viruses.


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Split-second moment that changed the next 35 years of my life

At the age of 29 in 1979, my “Plan A” was to grow old gracefully and maintain a very high level of fitness. When a car overtook a semi-trailer and hit me head-on while I was riding my motorcycle, my plan was left in disarray.

Over the next 18 months, I had many major life-saving operations, some needing multiple blood transfusions. It was only in 1988 that the Red Cross called and asked me to come in. I had blood tests, received counselling and was later told that I had hepatitis C.


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Associate Professor Amany Zekry recognised for health care work

Three health district leaders have been named among the inaugural Top 50 Public Sector Women in NSW. The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District clinicians, Associate Professor Amany Zekry, Theresa Jacques and Jodi Lynch are among the medical professionals honoured for their roles.

Professor Zekry is the medicine clinical stream director. As head of gastroenterology and hepatology, she built a clinical team delivering a multi-disciplinary, patient-centred approach towards diseases. She chaired the St George Hospital Clinical Council from 2010-2013 and is currently District Clinical Stream Director for Medicine, leading efforts to build a collaborative approach to equitable service delivery. From 2013-2017, she was the President of the Australian Liver Association and formed a large collaborative group that facilitated advocacy for PBS listing of treatment for hepatitis C. Under her leadership, the first report on the burden of chronic liver disease in Australia was commissioned and published, leading to positive engagement with policy makers.


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Asylum seekers left untreated for hep C

The doctors who examined Wissam Jadiri when he came to Australia by boat in 2013 detected his elevated liver enzymes right away. But it took more than four years, countless flights and threats of a federal court case for the 41-year-old Feyli Kurdish asylum seeker to get treatment for hepatitis C.


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Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project

One arm of this project expands upon previous data collection and the link below takes you to an online confidential survey, focused on people who inject drugs or who are living with hepatitis C.

Results from the previous phase showed more than half of participants reported experiencing stigma within the last 12 months related to their hepatitis C status (56%). Two-thirds of respondents reported at least some instances of being treated negatively by health workers (65%), including 15% who indicated this ‘often’ or ‘always’ happened.

Click to open the confidential survey >> 

Click here for background to the entire project >>

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Love Liver Love Life wows a packed audience

The light comedy “Love Liver, Love Life” wowed the packed audience at Hurstville Entertainment Centre’s Marana Auditorium. Held on Sat April 21, the play was organized by Hepatitis NSW, the Chinese Australian Services Society and the Australian Arts Assembly. This humorous light comedy was commissioned by Hepatitis NSW and the Australian Arts Assembly. It focused on prevention and treatment of hepatitis B in the Chinese community. The performance used easy-to-understand explanations to help eliminate the misunderstandings of hepatitis B prevention and control. As a result, the audience learnt more about hepatitis B related medical knowledge (acceptance of hepatitis B examination and treatment is of far-reaching significance).


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Hep nurse receives nomination for nurse of the year award

Bathurst nurse Katherine McQuillan has been nominated for a nurse of the year award, after her tireless work to improve the availability of hepatitis C services to disadvantaged people living in regional NSW. The nomination comes from superannuation fund HESTA, who have nominated another three finalists for the 2018 Nurse or Midwife of the Year. Ms McQuillan, who has been a nurse at the liver and viral clinic at the Bathurst Base Hospital for the past seven years, said she was both surprised and shocked when she learned of her nomination.


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How can you get hepatitis A from eating frozen fruit?

Seven people in New South Wales have been diagnosed with hepatitis A after eating imported frozen pomegranate seeds from Coles. Although still under investigation, the company responsible for production recalled the implicated product as a precaution.

Around 40,000 packs of Creative Gourmet Frozen Pomegranate Arils have been sold since hitting the shelves in September 2017. NSW Health is advising consumers to immediately dispose of any in their possession.

Click this link for good background information about the frozen pomegranate seeds…


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Yarning on Hep B at awareness day

The Weigelli Centre’s Community and Family Support team, in conjunction with Cowra Community Health held a “Yarning Hep B” awareness barbecue on Thursday, April 5. The barbecue promoted Hep B Awareness with information about prevention, testing, vaccination, care and treatment options. The awareness barbecue was held in Squire Park in Kendal Street next to Target and the day was funded by Hepatitis NSW.


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