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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Handy Tool Simplifies Management of Hepatitis C Treatment

One of the key planks of Australia’s hepatitis C elimination strategy is increasing treatment through management by General Practitioners (GPs), making it easier for individuals to receive treatment and facilitating access to hard-to-reach communities.

GP training programs have been rolled out across the country and GP prescribing had increased from 8 per cent in March to 31 per cent in December. However, most prescribing (62 per cent) are still by specialists and GP prescriptions in South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT and Victoria are significantly below average.

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Need for Hepatitis Support Continues

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.

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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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