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The Champion #122 – February 2024

This issue:

  1. Congratulations to Alex Wade, winner of the 2023 Hepatitis NSW Cheryl Burman Award
  2. Community Health outreach at Yabun Festival
  3. Mid-point Evaluation of DBS Testing Now Available
  4. Beyond the C Program: program now fully subscribed
  5. Hepatitis NSW resources: C Change and Yarnin’ about hep B

Congratulations to Alex Wade, winner of the 2023 Hepatitis NSW Cheryl Burman Award

In January, Hepatitis NSW celebrated the achievements of Alexandra (Alex) Wade, the winner of the 2023 Cheryl Burman Award, which acknowledges outstanding work by an individual or team in NSW within the viral hepatitis sector.

Alex is a Clinical Nurse Consultant for the Mid North Coast Liver Clinics across the Northern NSW and Mid North Coast LHDs, and has been recognised for her substantial contribution to improving the quality of life of people living with viral hepatitis.

Alex gave a powerful and moving speech, empathising with people who face barriers to health care, and experience difficult life situations. She states that “Passion, commitment, compassion, dedication, innovation, effective communication, and a willingness to go the extra mile” were crucial to being effective in viral hepatitis healthcare.

Alex credits her success to the amazing people she works with: the admin staff, the nurses and medical specialists who go above and beyond every day to meet their clients where they are, “to find ways and means of helping someone access care and treatment, sometimes in their darkest of days.” She detailed her journey working in the clinics and thanked the health professionals who acted as mentors and helped to broaden her experience.

Congratulations once again to Alex, who is an incredibly dedicated, innovative nurse and wonderfully committed hepatitis champion.

To watch Alex Wade’s acceptance speech >>>CLICK HERE

Community Health outreach at Yabun Festival

On 26 January, Hepatitis NSW attended the Yabun Festival at Victoria Park, Sydney on Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation.

Yabun is Australia’s largest one-day community celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. This annual event includes activities and experiences for people from all backgrounds to join in celebrating the world’s oldest living cultures.

On the main stage, there was a talented array of Indigenous musicians and singers entertaining the crowd throughout the day, while the Corroboree stage featured First Nations dance and song groups. There was also a ‘Speak Out’ tent, where attendees could hold engaging and meaningful conversations about the crucial issues facing Aboriginal communities today.

The festival included a bustling marketplace with goods and products that highlighted craftsmanship and creativity. Organisations held stalls that showcased their community services, including Hepatitis NSW. We joined with ACON, SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project) and Positive Life NSW, which represents and supports people living with HIV.

Hepatitis NSW recognises that Australia Day is not a date of celebration for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We stand in solidarity and reflect on our history as we work to build a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

To see photos from the Yabun Festival >>>CLICK HERE

Mid-point Evaluation of DBS Testing Now Available

The NSW Dried Blood Spot HIV and Hepatitis C Testing Pilot, sponsored by the NSW Ministry of Health, has published its Mid-Point Evaluation report.

This research study forms part of a strategy to reach more people living with or at risk of hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV in order to increase the rate of testing and treatment.

With around 130,000 people living with hep C and 2,610 people who were living with undiagnosed HIV infection in 2020, Australia needs to increase targeted testing to achieve the 2030 goals of the World Health Organisation to eliminate HCV and HIV transmission. There are still barriers to testing such as stigma and discrimination, limited access to services, off-site pathology, language, and culture.

With testing and treatment both decreasing, the health sector urgently needs testing models that are flexible and person-centred. Dried blood spot (DBS) testing is a safe, private, and confidential strategy. It includes: collecting finger prick blood samples; the option for self- collection done at home via online registration; testing at a reference laboratory; and results delivered confidentially via phone, text, email, or in person. DBS reduces the number of clinic visits required for a diagnosis, improving linkage to care and treatment, as well as being useful in prisons where it can be used to test large populations quickly with limited clinical space. Hepatitis NSW staff and peer workers have assisted LHD staff with DBS testing across NSW.

The NSW DBS Pilot improved the reach of HIV and HCV testing for priority populations and people who had not recently tested. With promising results, the study highlights some implications for practice, such as scaling up DBS testing in prisons, continuing to offer online self-registration for DBS testing, and ongoing promotion of the DBS Pilot through targeted health promotion activities.

To read the report >>>CLICK HERE

Beyond the C Program: EOIs now closed [updated]

As part of their ongoing commitment to quality improvement, the ASHM (Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine) has been reviewing their Beyond the C program and the support they’re providing to practices.

Beyond the C is part of a national initiative to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030 by calling on GPs and other health professionals working in primary care to sign up and help locate Australians who have hepatitis C.

UPDATED: ASHM recognises the time commitment involved for practices to identify people with and at risk of hepatitis C and linking them into care. There is also increasing pressure on general practice, including recent inflation that affects running costs. With this in mind, there was an increase in the incentive payment to practices at each timepoint. This led to a lot of interest and Expressions of Interest are now closed.

For more on ASHM’s hep C elimination efforts >>>CLICK HERE

Hepatitis NSW resources: C Change and Yarnin’ about hep B

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reprinted our popular C Change brochures, and don’t forget about our new Yarnin’ about hep B booklets!

These free resources are easy-read guides with important information about transmission, prevention, living with, and seeking treatment for, hep C and hep B.

To check out our C Change brochure >>>CLICK HERE

To check out our Yarnin’ about hep B booklet >>>CLICK HERE

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