ASHM's Treating Hepatitis C in General Practice Forum in Adelaide was a phenomenal event.  This was not only the first of its kind in Australia, but also the first of its kind anywhere in the world!

The ability to sit down with GPs from all over Australia and discuss the challenges and successes that we have faced over the past 2 years with Hep C treatment was motivating.   The forum focused on inspiring and empowering GPs from across Australia to roll up the sleeves and get stuck into treating hepatitis C in their practices.  This forum highlighted the fact that Australia is in a unique situation, the envy of many other nations, with GPs having such great access and ability to prescribe DAA therapy to their patients.

There were many great ideas and thoughts that I walked away with.  But the main one was that GPs have this amazing opportunity not just to be part of Hep C elimination but to be in the driving seat!

It is amazing to think that vast majority of people remaining with Hep C will be cured by GPs.  And to think that GPs can lead this hepatitis C elimination revolution all from the comfort of their consulting room.  For the most part, Hep C treatment is straightforward and easily incorporated into a routine consultation.

 There were some fantastic presentations on the forum day, which described the great work that GPs around Australia are already doing.  Dr Ashton Kelly’s presentation was a great example of the can do attitude and the practical skills that are inherent in GPs and that are needed to eliminate Hep C from their communities.  Ashton’s presentation around his great work in a remote community showed that although there are small barriers along the way to treatment, it is the irreplaceable therapeutic relationship that GPs have with their patients that allows these barriers to be taken away.  Ashton’s presentation drove home the message that the DAA medications are successful even in some of the most difficult patient populations.

I came away from the day inspired and determined.

It is great to get out and talk to and learn from likeminded GPs.  So often as GPs we can feel isolated and trapped inside our small windowless consulting rooms.  It is very easy to lose track of the bigger picture and lose track of what your peers are doing elsewhere in Australia.  The GP forum helped to build connections and link GPs who are doing similar work.

Since the forum I have changed a number of things in my practice and continued on my journey with Hep C treatment. I have worked in clinics of my local hospital Gastro department.  I’ve continued to increase data collection/research and as well as give presentations at national and international conferences, flying the flag for GPs as DAA prescribers.  I have increased the number of Hep C Kombi Clinic sessions and taken the Kombi clinic to more places to test, treat and get patients on the road to cure that wouldn’t otherwise have access. I have also started to work with corrective services to look at ways to increase the number of inmates accessing Hep C therapy.

Author bio:

Dr Joss O'Loan is a GP in the suburb of Inala, Brisbane. Along with his mate Dr Matt Young, he has been running a Mobile Hep C treatment clinic out of a 1978 Cream coloured Kombi Van.

Watch his presentation “Think Global, Act Local and Drive a Kombi” here.

Find out more and become a signatory to the Aus GPs End Hep C Statement here