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Viral Hepatitis and Substance Use Program

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In 2016, ASHM partnered with the Kirby Institute at UNSW to develop and implement a Hepatitis C in Drug and Alcohol Education Program designed to strengthen the capacity of healthcare professionals working in drug and alcohol clinics.

ASHM ​to roll out education to strengthen the capacity of healthcare professionals working in drug and alcohol clinics


Hepatitis C in Drug and Alcohol settings.jpg

Globally, hepatitis C (HCV) related morbidity and mortality are rising. However, following the advent of well-tolerated, simple, short-course direct acting antiviral (DAA) interferon-free HCV regimens with cure rates >95%, there is potential to reverse the rising burden of advanced liver disease with increased treatment. With increased treatment in General Practices rising in Australia from 4% in March 2016 to 19% in September 2016, Australia has been earmarked to eliminate HCV as a major public health threat by 2026.

People who inject drugs account for the majority of new (90%) and existing (65-70%) cases of HCV in many high- and middle-income countries. Drug and alcohol clinics are logical venues for expanding HCV care, given the large burden of HCV infection and an existing framework for the provision of care for PWID. However, there is a lack of education and training on HCV for drug and alcohol providers. Further, among PWID, a major barrier to HCV testing, linkages to care and treatment is a lack of knowledge about HCV infection and its treatment. 

Program Overview

In 2016, ASHM partnered with the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales to develop and implement a Hepatitis C in Drug and Alcohol Education Program. The Program will address this lack of education and training for providers enabling them with the skills with which to confidently test, treat and discuss HCV with their clients.

Key topics covered in the program include:  

      • HCV epidemiology and prevention
      • HCV natural history
      • HCV testing, non-invasive liver fibrosis assessment (e.g. Fibroscan®)
      • indications for HCV treatment
      • treatment management
      • management of co-morbidities (e.g. HIV co-infection) and reinfection

Designed to strengthen the capacity of healthcare professionals working in drug and alcohol clinics, the Program offers a range of flexible training and delivery modes appropriate for experienced clinicians and adult learners. These include, self-paced online modules with interactive quizzes, short presentations, question and answer sessions using keypads, facilitated small group work, and case study discussions.

Domestic and International roll-out

The Education Program will be rolled out across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia throughout 2017. ASHM have engaged with experts in each State to deliver the training including expertise across gastroenterology, hepatology and addiction medicine.

ASHM is also collaborating with the International Network for Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU) on the adaptation of this program for other countries. INHSU is an international, not-for-profit, member-based organisation dedicated to scientific knowledge exchange, education and advocacy focused on hepatitis C prevention and care with people who use drugs. Over the course of a 24 month period, ASHM and INHSU will deliver multiples trainings in a number of North American and European countries targeting more than 1,000 international practitioners.

Hepatitis C Satellite Symposium at International Harm Reduction Conference

In May 2017, ASHM, in collaboration with the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), Harm Reduction International, Médecins du Monde, the Canadian Network on Hepatitis C, and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable are delivering a Hepatitis C Satellite Symposium at the 25th International Harm Reduction Conference in Montreal, Canada.

HR17-logo 250px.pngThe Symposium will be an innovative, cutting edge meeting of clinicians, public health professionals, government, community and primary care representatives and most importantly people living with hepatitis C, committed to integrating successful care of drug use and HCV among PWID.

The day will focus on knowledge exchange and discussion of models of care required to provide hepatitis C treatment for everyone. Attendees will hear from international experts in the field and participate in practical group-based work and roundtable discussions on hepatitis C prevention, care and treatment in drug and alcohol settings.

It is through this rapid scale up of HCV treatment among PWID that we will reduce the numbers of those affected and re-infected within this high prevalence community. By doing so, these projects will contribute to the World Health Organization goal of hepatitis C elimination by 2030.

For more information

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