Hepatitis Day on 28th July marks the beginning of NSW Hepatitis Awareness Week.
This year people living in western NSW are encouraged to ‘love their liver’, by learning how to look after liver health, to visit their doctor to get a referral to have their liver health assessed and to educate others on key hepatitis prevention messages. The word hepatitis means inflammation or swelling of the liver.
It can be caused by chemicals or drugs, by drinking too much alcohol or by different kinds of viruses. Hepatitis C and B are viruses that can cause hepatitis. The single most important and effective way to prevent new hepatitis C transmissions is to not share equipment used to inject drugs. This should be supported by the continuing expansion of Needle & Syringe Programs (NSPs) to ensure all people who need to access sterile injecting equipment can do so. Avoiding shared equipment for body piercing, home tattooing and not practicing blood kinship ceremonies are important in prevention as blood-to-blood contact is possible in these situations.
With National HCV and HBV rates estimated at 230 000 and 207 000 respectively, the Western NSW LHD HIV and Related Programs Unit, Population Health is committed to reducing the incidence, prevalence, social impact and medical complications of hepatitis infection within our communities; supported by a dedicated and committed workforce of specialist medial, nursing and allied health staff delivering liver clinic services in the regional cities of Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo and Broken Hill with outreach to more isolated areas.
Events planned to raise awareness of liver health, testing, treatment and advocacy for those affected by hepatitis include:
29th July- Outreach Weigelli; testing, monitoring and treatment information day from 0900 hours until noon.
1st August – BBH Community Mental Health Love your Liver Breakfast
31st July – Clinic 96 Kite Street; healthy liver/get tested promotion
28th & 29th July – Acacia Cottage DBH; awareness sessions on testing, monitoring and treatment.
Coordinator of Blood Borne Virus Prevention, Population Health, Western NSW LHD Georgiana Simpson said that increasing rates of hepatitis C (HCV) testing is a priority area for the Health District.
“With recent advancements in treatment, new options on the horizon and established local specialist services, a cure is now possible for the overwhelming majority of people living with hepatitis C,” she said.
“This is also a perfect time for people living with chronic hepatitis B to consider their liver health and options for treatment as well. While there is no cure for hepatitis B, effective treatments are available to prevent progression to liver cancer”.