Should I get a hep C test?
Hep C is more common among people who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander so if you think you might have had a risk for hep C it’s a good idea to get tested.
- Getting a tattoo or piercing done by family or a friend, or getting it done at home.
- Getting a tattoo or piercing done in prison
- Share razors or toothbrushes with your family or other people, or living somewhere that someone might use your razor or toothbrush
- Sharing a fit (needle) with someone else
- Sharing anything that you use when you inject
Some less common risks would be:
- Getting traditional scarring in a ceremony if tools/blades are re-used
- Having a fight and getting cut
If you think you might have had a risk for hep C you can get tested at your doctor or at an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS). They’ll take a small amount of blood and test it.
Check out our Directory to see where your nearest doctor or AMS (Aboriginal Medical Service) is.
What if I have it?
If you have hep C and you’ve had it for longer than 6 months than you have chronic hep C. This means that you will have hep C for the rest of your life unless you decide to try treatment to get rid of it.
Many people live long and healthy lives even though they have hep C.
It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about how to keep yourself well. If they work with hep C treatment, they can assess you (with some simple blood tests). Depending on what these tests say, you might decide to try treatment. Treatment takes between 8 weeks to 24 weeks and you have around a 95% chance of getting rid of hep C. The GP might then start you on treatment, giving you a script that can be filled by a local pharmacy.
For more information on local GPs and chemists who work with hep C treatment, check out our Web Directory.
Other treatment options include your local Aboriginal Medical Service.
What can I do to look after my health?
Ask your AMS or doctor for regular liver checks (about every six months) even if you feel well.
Talk to your AMS or doctor before taking any herbal or complementary medicines as some are harmful to the liver.
Get some regular exercise and eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day – a healthy body weight will help keep your liver healthy too.
Alcohol and tobacco are both harmful to your liver. If you regularly drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, then talk to your AMS or doctor about what help you can get to cut down or stop.
Yarndi is also harmful to your liver. If you smoke yarndi regularly, then think about cutting down or stopping to help look after your liver. You can call the Cannabis Information and Helpline on 1800 30 40 50 to get some help with it.
I have diabetes and hep C – what should I do?
Having both diabetes and hep C means it is even more important for you to control your diabetes so that your liver doesn’t get too stressed. Plus, now is a great time to talk to your doctor about hep C treatment.
Lots of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have diabetes and if you have hep C you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can be managed – your doctor or AMS can help with this. If you have hep C, ask your doctor for a diabetes check.
Who can I talk to?
If you’re thinking about hep C treatment and want to talk to someone about what it might be like, or if you’re on treatment and need someone to talk to then call the Hepatitis Infoline and ask for a Hep Connect call. Hep Connect is a service for people who are thinking about hep C treatment or people who are already on it. You can get a call from someone who is Aboriginal if you want.
This page last updated 6 July 2016.