New guidelines mean more freedom for healthcare workers living with BBVs

New national guidelines endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council have been released in January 2019 for healthcare workers who perform exposure-prone procedures, and for healthcare workers living with a blood-borne virus (BBV).

These are the Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Healthcare Workers Living with Blood Borne Viruses and Healthcare Workers who Perform Exposure Prone Procedures at Risk of Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses.

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Treating Hepatitis C Under Nearly Impossible Conditions

Even in a country like Australia, with a high standard of living and a socialised health system, the battle to eliminate hepatitis can be challenging. So what is it like in a country like India, where poverty, population pressures and lack of health funding and education make every medical challenge so much harder?

Dr Sunil Solomon is Associate Professor of Medicine at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He spoke at the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Adelaide about his work on eliminating HCV among people in India who inject drugs.

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The Challenges of Aboriginal Prisoner Care in South Australia

While only 2.3% of South Australia’s population is Indigenous, almost a quarter (22%) of people in the State’s prison system are Aboriginal. The prison population is also rife with blood-borne viruses, including hepatitis B and C—viruses which also disproportionately affect Indigenous people in the general population.

Untreated chronic health conditions (as well as hepatitis these commonly include mental illness, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, cancer and drug use), compounded by a prisoner’s isolation from their family and community, and a fracturing in their cultural identity and spiritual wellbeing, can be catastrophic for an Aboriginal person in the prison system.

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Tackling Hepatitis and Other Blood-borne Viruses in Prisons

The prevalence of hepatitis C and  hepatitis B in Australian prisons is higher than in in the wider community, but prison settings also present and opportunity for testing, monitoring and treatment, especially for hepatitis C since the introduction of new, highly effective drugs that has shortened treatment time dramatically.

Up to 40 per cent of prisoners have hepatitis C, compared to only one per cent in the wider community, and three to four per cent of prisoners have hepatitis B, compared to just under one per cent in the wider South Australian community.

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Quite Little, Very Late – Govt response to Silent Disease Report

The Federal Government’s response to the ‘Silent Disease’ inquiry into hepatitis C in Australia falls well short of what anyone living with hepatitis C could have hoped. Coming nearly 18 months after the report was submitted, the response fully accepted only three out of ten of the recommendations.

The Silent Disease Report was a comprehensive study from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, and can be read online here. It made 10 main recommendations about the way the Australian Government should respond to the ongoing epidemic.

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Helping People Adhere to Treatment Helps Treatment Succeed

The development of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments has revolutionised the treatment of hepatitis C in Australia. DAAs are effective and, when patients follow the medication regime, can cure more than 90% of those who take the treatment. But at the moment there are limited resources to inform and guide health professionals as they try to provide adherence support to those undergoing DAA treatment.

Medication adherence refers to the way an individual takes a medication, including the use of the correct medication, the correct dose and time, duration and timely refilling of repeat prescriptions.

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