The rate of hepatitis C infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia is increasing even as infection rate decreases in the wider community. This is despite the introduction of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs that offer the chance to completely eliminate the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Caring for country and for collective wellbeing is something our First Nations have done for over 65,000 years. Building on that strength, and informed by community and artists, Hepatitis Victoria’s LiverWELL program have launched a customised guide that offers Indigenous Australians multiple tips and current links to support healthy living.
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.