The need for support and information about hepatitis C brought together a small band of people in Adelaide some 20 years ago. That small group from the 90s grew to become today’s Hepatitis SA.
Providing support to people dealing with chronic hepatitis remains at the heart Hepatitis SA’s services. The close mutual support of the early days has developed into formal, on-going support groups, telephone support and face to face information sessions.
Despite new hepatitis C cures, many who have cleared the virus are still dealing with the health consequences of living with the virus for so many years. The need for support continues.
Among the needs being addressed are: coping with advanced liver disease in daily life and user-friendly information on changing to a low-salt diet.
In addition, there are still many others who need encouragement and support to get started on treatment.
Calming the C support groups meet four-weekly at Hackney, and at Port Adelaide. Support groups at the latter location are supported by viral hepatitis nurses who work onsite.
These Calming the C support groups provide a safe, supportive environment for people living with hepatitis C or B, as well as their family or friends to share their experiences. Confidentiality and respect for others are strictly observed in the groups.
…many who have cleared the virus are still dealing with the health consequences of living with the virus for so many years. The need for support continues.
Issues discussed at the support groups include diagnosis, disclosure, treatment and other related challenges that participants may face.
The other core support service is the Hepatitis SA Helpline which operates on weekdays during office hours. This service is staffed by workers who are trained to provide:
- information that can help clients make decisions
- referrals to other services that can further meet their needs
- names of hepatitis-friendly general practitioners
Hepatitis C peers are also available for those who prefer to speak with someone who’s had personal experience with hepatitis. Telephone interpreter service is available for people with limited English.
Steps are also being taken to explore culturally-friendly support for people from non-English speaking backgrounds, especially on hepatitis B-related issues. Aside from telephone support, online platforms such as WeChat (popular with some cultural groups) are being piloted.
People who are more comfortable talking face to face can make appointments for information sessions with support workers. All sessions are confidential and privacy is maintained at all times.