Hepatitis CureableJul 27, 2023
Clinical Nurse Consultant Alex Wade and the Liver Clinic team live by the World Hepatitis Day mantra daily; ‘Hep Can’t Wait’. The strength of service delivered by the team on the Mid and North Coasts will be part of an international health conference in Geneva, Switzerland, later this year.
The team works in various community settings, from correctional facilities to housing and rehabilitation centres, to reach as many people as possible, bringing information, education and testing about viral Hepatitis.
“We have an assertive outreach model, which means we use whatever method we can to help people access health care and treatment for their Hepatitis B and C,” Alex said.
“No one methodology works in every setting, and we will adapt our services to suit any situation.”
The team’s flexible approach to reaching those at risk of contracting or living with the virus unaware will be presented at the International Network on Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users’ annual conference in October.
The Liver Clinic team is bridging the gap between vulnerable people who would not normally access health services and those with regular access.
“We carry all the testing equipment we need in our mobile clinics to deliver our services in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres, correctional facilities, social housing common rooms and community centres,” Alex said.
There are several ways to test for Hepatitis beyond a blood test, including dried blood spots and fingerprint testing. Point of Care machines inside the mobile clinics can return a test result in an hour.
With timely treatment and recent advances in medication, Hepatitis C is curable in 95 per cent of cases. Early diagnosis is vital in managing the virus and preventing its spread.
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are two of the viruses that can cause inflammation of the liver. Both are spread through contact with infected blood. Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted by sharing injecting equipment, including infected needles and associated equipment. Hepatitis is also transmitted via unsterile body piercing, tattooing and medical procedures. Hepatitis B is also sexually transmissible.
Hepatitis Awareness Week runs from 24-30 July, and World Hepatitis Day is on 28 July. Alex and the team will continue to bring people together to drive hepatitis elimination efforts.
“Mid North Coast Local Health District has worked hard over the last four years to deliver this model of care,” she said.
“We’re reaching more people, which means we can help eliminate Hepatitis C in line with the World Health Organisation’s target of 2030 and NSW Health’s target of 2028.”