Hep C is classed as a disability under Australian law
This doesn’t mean that someone who is living with hep C can automatically get a disability support payment, but it does mean that in most situations it is illegal to discriminate against them just because they are living with a disability – hep C.
Everyone has the right to be treated the same – fairly and with respect.
If you think you have been treated unfairly by a service or a professional because you are living with hep C then there are things you can do about it, for example you might want to make a complaint.
Going to the dentist
Maintaining good dental health helps keep your whole body, including your liver, healthier. Many people put off going to the dentist because it can be expensive, a bit painful and for people living with hep C, it’s often a time when you will be asked on a form if you have hep C.
Getting regular checkups at your dentist is an especially good idea if you have hep C because people with hep C generally have poorer dental health than people without hep C. Regular means at least one full check-up a year.
Going to the doctor
If you have a regular doctor then it’s a good idea to talk to them about your hep C. Hep C affects more than your liver, so even though something might not seem related to your hep C, this information can help your doctor get a better picture of your over-all health.
Having regular check-ups with your doctor is a part of living well with hep C. Regular check-ups means having a check-up every six to twelve months.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell your doctor that you have hep C if you don’t want to. Usually the first time you see a new doctor you will be asked to fill out a form that covers your general health history. You may be asked if you have or have had hep C. Under Australian law you do not have to tell the doctor that you have or have had hep C. When filling out the form you can choose to leave this question blank.
Confidentiality means that your personal information (like your hep C status) is kept private and not shared with anyone unless they need to know.
You have the right to confidentiality when you are accessing any service, including going to the doctor, the dentist or any other health service, including hospitals and mental health services.
This means that information that shows that you are living with hep C must not be publicly accessible (so it shouldn’t be readily visible on the notes at the end of your hospital bed). It also means that this information should only be shared on a need-to-know basis – however, anyone directly involved in your care who has access to your medical notes will be able to read that you have hep C.
Health records can only be passed from one person to another in a few situations almost all of which involve your personal health care (and definitely not for workplace health and safety reasons – universal precautions make that unnecessary).
Making a complaint
There are several reasons you might be thinking of making a complaint. One is if you feel you have been discriminated against, another is if your confidentiality has been breached.
If you want to make a complaint you can make one to the Health Care Complaints Commission (or its equivalent in your State or Territory).
A good place to start is by calling the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990. They can talk you through what might be involved in making a complaint and will probably suggest you contact HALC – a legal service who do work around hep C.
This page was last updated 25 May 2016.