Every year on 28th July, World Hepatitis Day is observed to raise global awareness of hepatitis and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Sydney Local Health District is reminding local communities of the importance of hepatitis B testing for early diagnosis.
“Testing for hepatitis B can’t wait. Many people in our community are still unaware they may be living with chronic hepatitis B,” said Professor Benjamin Cowie, director of the Australian WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Doherty Institute.
“Without care and treatment, hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer. Still in 2022 worldwide, a person dies every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are the key to prevent these tragic outcomes. The only way to find out whether you have hepatitis B is to get tested,” added Professor Cowie.
The Are you living with hepatitis B? Find Out. Get Tested campaign encourages people from diverse communities to get tested for hepatitis B and look after their liver health. Campaign messages are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.
“We are here to help our diverse communities take care of themselves and look after their liver health,” said Barbara Luisi, Director of Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub. “Our campaign gives quick access to culturally appropriate information so people can make informed decisions and take action.”
“We encourage community members to ask their doctor about hepatitis B and book a test. Hepatitis B testing is free if you have a Medicare card. If you don’t have a Medicare Card, most NSW Health Sexual Health Clinics can offer free testing. In Australia, all conversations with your doctor remain private,” added Ms Luisi.
This HIV Testing Week (1-7 June) is urging people, including those from diverse backgrounds to resume routine HIV testing.
Early diagnoses helps people get effective treatments in time and reduce the risks of passing on HIV to others.
Data released by NSW Health shows HIV testing rates dropped in 2021 due to COVID-19 disruptions. Laboratories tests in NSW were 15% lower in 2021 than in 2019. Home testing via Dried Blood Spot (DBS) dropped by 50% in the last quarter of 2021 than in the previous quarter.
There are many options to get a HIV test. HIV testing is free if you have a Medicare card. Temporary visitors in NSW without a Medicare card may go to Sexual Health Clinics for free, easy and confidential services. For people wanting to avoid crowded places such doctor’s offices and clinics, the online DBS test remain a popular option.
DBS testing kit is available for order from hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au. For more information, download 2021 NSW Multicultural Health Communication Award-winning resource HIV – What you need to know for more information here.
Sydney Local Health District is encouraging local communities to come back to their doctors and resume their critical liver health checks.
“Now is the time to take care of ourselves and look after your liver health. If you are living with chronic hepatitis B, getting tested and finding whether you have hepatitis B is part of it. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer. Postponing your hepatitis B test may delay life-saving treatment,” said Barbara Luisi, Director of Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub.
The Are you living with hepatitis B? Find Out. Get Tested campaign developed by the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub encourages people from diverse communities to get tested for hepatitis B and look after their liver health. Starting May 2nd, the month-long state-wide campaign across ethnic newspaper, radio and social media campaign aims to raise awareness of hepatitis B testing and treatment across the Arabic-speaking, Chinese-speaking, Korean, Sub-Saharan African, and Vietnamese communities living in NSW.
Visit our multilingual Hepatitis B Testing Options Page for more information. A multilingual resource toolkit, which includes the campaign digital and hard copy resources is available on the campaign webpage.
The multilingual HIV information booklet HIV – What you need to know has been recognised as a finalist in the 2021 Multicultural Health Communication Awards, as the world marks 40 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic.
The booklet was developed by the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) partnered with the community. It focuses on HIV prevention, testing, and treatment as well as addressing stigma and improving access to health services.
“Advances in treatments and prevention mean that people with HIV on effective treatments can enjoy long and healthy lives, have virtually no risk of passing on HIV to others and can have children without HIV,” Barbara Luisi, the District’s Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub, said.
“In response to the concerns of our community, we developed this booklet in partnership with them. Insights and feedback from community consultations, focus group testing and peer-review played a critical role in taking a culturally appropriate approach to a sensitive topic,” Ms Luisi said.
The booklet is available in eight languages – English, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.
So far, more than 6,500 hard copies have been distributed state-wide through healthcare services, NGOs and community based organisations. Digital copies can be downloaded here.
The recognition as a finalist in the Multicultural Health Communication Awards coincides with World AIDS Day, which is an opportunity to reflect on the response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. This year’s theme is 40 years of HIV – where to next?
The winners of the Multicultural Health Communication Awards will be announced on 8 December 2021.
Visit our campaign page for more details.