Despite COVID, hepatitis can’t wait this
World Hepatitis Day
Wednesday, 28 July marks World Hepatitis Day 2021, an important opportunity to give visibility to, and raise awareness of viral hepatitis, as well to drive better outcomes for people affected by viral hepatitis.
This year’s theme is “Hepatitis can’t wait”, conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. Even in the current COVID-19 crisis, we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis doesn’t care about other health crises. Left unchecked both hep B and hep C will continue to find new people to infect and continue to damage the livers of those already living with the viruses.
The good news is that recent changes to Medicare means Australians can have access to management, care and treatment of hep B or treatment and cure of hep C from the comfort, privacy and safety of their own home using telehealth. Even testing for hep C can be done at home using a free Dried Blood Spot (DBS) test kit ordered from dbstest.helath.nsw.gov.au
Hepatitis NSW CEO, Mr Steven Drew said, “Advances have been made in Australia and New South Wales on many fronts for both hep B and hep C. While much has been achieved through the combined and concerted efforts of community health organisations, clinicians, health departments, and researchers, we all agree that there is still much to be done to meet elimination targets in this country.”
In NSW, World Hepatitis Day falls within Hepatitis Awareness Week which runs 26-31 July. The week includes a range of local and state-wide activities, events, and initiatives to improve population outcomes for both hep B and hep C.
Mr Drew said, “A key activity this year is the roll out of HEP CURED, a campaign using simple messaging and strong imagery to promote the availability and effectiveness of cures for hepatitis C. The core message of the campaign instils a sense of connection with loved ones, or significant others.”
Three key posters were designed based on research showing the importance of “connection to others” as motivations to seek cure. The posters serve as conversation starters that lead to engagement around hepatitis C testing and treatment.
HEP CURED utilises posters in clinics and services, advertising in shopping centres and washrooms, laneway and regional billboard advertising, railway billboards, and selected bus shelters and street furniture.
Hepatitis NSW is also running a separate social media initiative featuring ten video and display adverts across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google. Each advertisement – be it about hep B, hep C, or liver health – links to relevant pages on the Hepatitis NSW website, providing information and resources on testing and treatment. This initiative aims to support the ongoing push to eliminate viral hepatitis.
Included in the initiative are videos featuring some of our many amazing and inspiring lived experience speakers. These people bravely share their own very personal stories and perspectives on life with hep B or hep C, and what management or cure, respectively, means to them.
Mr Drew said, “These stories are a powerful reminder that while we focus on the disease, at the heart of all we do and what we want to achieve, are real people. People with hopes, dreams, families, friends, and a desire to get the most out of life.