Hep Check, Connect and Cure
The Hep Check, Connect and Cure pilot project aims to utilise a health-systems strengthening approach and co-design methods to improve the screening, management and prevention of hepatitis C within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. The project will build upon the learnings, implementation, and success of the B Stronger Project however, adapted to the hepatitis C landscape.
As of 2020, an estimated 43% of people living with hepatitis C (HCV) in Queensland have been initiated on treatment. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for 2–3% of the population, they constitute 8–10% of all Australians living with chronic HCV. The notification rates of newly diagnosed cases of HCV infection among Indigenous Australians was 173 per 100,000 in 2016, with a 25% increase in rates of HCV infection from 2012 to 2016. This rate was 3.8 times higher than the stable rate of around 45 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.
The first phase will have a focus on community consultation as well as identifying two pilot sites for the project. A key component of this phase will include commissioning an artwork by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use art as part of communication and teaching in everyday life and ceremony. Commissioning an artwork by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person will be a cornerstone of the project to provide culturally sensitive health promotion messages and education to the community.
The second phase will focus on building workforce capacity and improving clinical systems and management at the two pilot sites through the development of resources and implementation of workforce education.
The final phase will have a key focus on mobilising the communities and bringing together key staff, tools and resources to increase hepatitis C testing (including possible PoCT) and treatment at the two pilot sites.
The intended benefits of the Hep Check, Connect and Cure project will be to strengthen the pilot services capacity to address hepatitis C elimination in a culturally appropriate way and to engage new clients from the local areas in hepatitis C care through community awareness campaigns and outreach testing. Improving healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people results in better treatment and understanding of hepatitis C within this population. It is vital that high treatment numbers are maintained to stop new hepatitis C infections and hepatitis C-related deaths.
Expected outcomes from this project:
- Improved workforce knowledge and confidence in testing, treatment and management of hepatitis C
- Improvement engagement with communities attending pilot sites related to hepatitis C through community activities and awareness campaigns.
- Increased testing rates with the inclusion of PoCT (point of care testing) technology
- A template for successfully implementing an integrated hepatitis C testing program within a network of ACHHS; and a plan to scale this up to other ACHHS.
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