Report Back from the 11th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference Day 3 - Wednesday 15 Aug 2018

The theme of the conference was “No one left behind “and on Wednesday there were several presentations about how to identify and reach, high prevalence and under tested groups. Jeyamani Ramachandran talked about the under testing of psychiatric in-patients even though they are a high-risk group. Often, they have co-existing drug and alcohol issues which place them at risk from unsafe injecting and unsafe sex particularly when they are most unwell. They are often isolated, aboriginal and have prison experience.  Although they are mentally unwell in hospital it is a time to test and initiate discussion about the need for treatment for blood borne viruses. In the sample tested 57% were hepatitis C RNA positive. 

The group who attended needle and syringe services in a Sydney service seemed to be well aware of the need for testing and availability of hepatitis C treatment. Most had been tested even though not all had taken up treatment.  

Mary Fenech from Queensland Injectors Health Network (QUIHN) Brisbane emphasised the importance of offering those with positive tests peer support and the time to decide to be treated as well as the need to offer a prescription. She cautioned being ruled by the numbers of people treated and forgetting that we are treating real people with many associated and often more urgent issues.   

A study done at Kirkton road centre, presented by Rebecca Lothian, underlined the importance of timely recalls for all those who have positive Hep C RNA. Because the recalls were done 15 months after testing this highly mobile cohort had moved on and or changed phone contact. 

The final session started with another lived experience speaker and was followed by a panel of those who have lived with blood borne viruses and those clinicians who work to treat them. It was a very useful session of real life experience and immediate feedback on both sides as to some of the barriers and difficulties in dealing with the issues.   

Overall it was an interesting conference able to present a wide range of views and experiences both from the clinicians and the recipients of care. 

 

 

 

Author bio: 

Merrilyn Williams has worked at The Better Access Medical Clinic in Brisbane since 2014 . She works as a General Practitioner in a Non-Government Organisation Clinic which aims to achieve better health outcomes for patients with Drug/ Alcohol/ Metal Health issues. Merrilyn is an S100 HIV Prescriber and has been involved in the treatment and cure of many of our 350 Hepatitis C positive patients.