Leaders from diverse communities and local health services have joined forces against hepatitis B in NSW. Aimed at increasing awareness of hepatitis B, the Hep B: Could it be me? ASK. TEST. TREAT initiative coincides with the World Hepatitis Day (28th July) and NSW Hepatitis Awareness Week (24th July – 30th July) and urges joint community action against the global epidemic.
ASK. TEST. TREAT initiatives to Engage Diverse communities
The initiative presents a collective front against hepatitis B and reflects this year's World Hepatitis Day theme Eliminate Hepatitis, according to Lucy Mukoko, Shona-speaking Health Education Officer of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS).
"Hepatitis B affects people from all walks of life. By committing to improve awareness of hepatitis B and challenge it through greater collaboration with community and health sector partners, we demonstrate our resolve to support the wider global campaign to eliminate the epidemic by 2030,” said Ms Mukoko.
Hepatitis experts agree that eliminating hepatitis B requires increasing our efforts to detect and treat hepatitis B. It is estimated that there are more than 240 million people living with chronic (long term) hepatitis B in the world with about 239,000 people in Australia. About 84,000 people with hepatitis B live in NSW. People from Asia- Pacific, the Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa backgrounds are amongst the most affected.
Although hepatitis B is the leading infectious cause of liver cancer and claims the lives of 1000 Australians each year, it is still not known to many, according to Gai Stackpool, Acting Manager of the MHAHS.
“Hepatitis B is a silent disease and remains virtually unknown to the general public, at-risk communities, and even health-care providers. As a consequence, about 40 per cent of Australians living with the virus do not know that they have it, placing them at greater risk for severe, even fatal complications from the disease and increasing the likelihood that they will spread the virus to others.
“We recognize that hepatitis B often has no symptoms until serious liver damage has already occurred. It is important that we ask our doctor if we are at risk of having chronic hepatitis B. The only way to know if you have chronic hepatitis B is by having a blood TEST. Testing allows those with hepatitis B to take steps to protect their health, including starting treatment that can prevent liver disease,” said Ms Stackpool.
Hep B: Could it be me? ASK. TEST. TREAT campaign is designed to reach people from diverse cultural backgrounds. It provides culturally relevant messages in multiple languages, including English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, through a wide range of channels, including:
- news editorials
- print ads
- public service announcements
- broadcast interviews
- community forums to educate and mobilize communities to get tested and take up treatment
- promotional materials such as calendars, fridge magnets, sticky notes, wallet cards.
“We are committed to working with our community partners to heighten awareness of hepatitis B and are excited to be part of this collaborative effort dedicated to developing innovative ways to help eliminate hepatitis B. Everyone in the community – from individuals, to community leaders, to doctors – can all help to put an end to this epidemic by getting tested and talking about hepatitis B. We must come together now to put an end to this epidemic ," said Ms Stackpool.
Some of the key hepatitis B messages are:
- It is important to ask your doctor if you are at risk of having chronic hepatitis B.
- The only way to know if you have chronic hepatits B is by having a blood TEST. ASK your doctor for a hepatitis B test.
- Hepatitis B is common in our communities. Most people with hepatitis B don’t have symptoms and many don’t know they have it.
- There are treatments that can control the hepatitis B virus and reduce damage to your liver and reduce the risk of liver cancer.
- ASK. TEST. TREAT hepatitis B.
For more information about hepatitis B testing and treatment, including a list of doctors specifically trained in the care and management of people living with hepatitis B visit http://www.ashm.org.au/HBV/hbv-prescriber-lists/NSW_HBV_prescribers_list_6April2017.pdf . In Australia, all conversations with your doctor remain private. Or call the Hepatitis Hotline on 1800 803 990. If you want to use a telephone interpreter, first call 131 450.
Talk to your doctor about hepatitis B and ask for a test. In Australia, all conversations with your doctor remain private. Or call the Hepatitis Hotline on 1800 803 990. If you want to use a telephone interpreter, first call 131 450.
For more details about Hep B: Could it be me? ASK.TEST. TREAT visit www.hepb.org.au
For media interviews, please contact Sonam Paljor on 02-95151234 www.mhahs.org.au