Sector News
8 May 2018

Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) has received National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding and will work in in partnership with the NT Department of Health, the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) and community service providers to eliminate chronic hepatitis B (CHB) from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Northern Territory (NT).

The NHMRC funding of $1.4 million will assist the $5.2 million Hep B PAST project, led by Menzies, which will identify and treat those suffering the burden of chronic hepatitis B (CHB).

Menzies’ infectious diseases expert and Royal Darwin Hospital specialist physician, Dr Jane Davies, says the project is designed to rid the chronic disease from the Indigenous population in the NT. CHB infection is very common in the Indigenous communities of the NT with a prevalence of up to 12 per cent, of those living with CHB 25 per cent will die from it with either liver failure or liver cancer.

“By elimination we mean no more new cases acquired in the NT alongside providing gold standard care for existing cases,” Dr Davies said.

“We have two main aims; the first is to focus on improving health literacy about hepatitis B among Indigenous communities, people living with CHB and primary health care providers, with the use of the Hep B Story app, which will be translated into 10 more Aboriginal languages and delivered by trained Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

“Secondly, to improve the care for individuals living with CHB by establishing an NT HBV clinical register, supporting ongoing healthcare provider training, and the coordinated transition of CHB care into primary care.”

Acting CEO Mr Scott McGill says ASHM is pleased to continue their role in facilitating the transition of the management of CHB into the primary care chronic disease model through the provision of training and support for primary care providers.

“ASHM has so far trained 105 doctors, 55 nurses and 4 Aboriginal Health Practitioners in the testing and management of CHB with 45 general practitioners across the NT now able to prescribe HBV antiviral medications.

We look forward to continuing the partnership to work towards engaging those living with CHB in guideline based management and treatment and the elimination of CHB from Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory.”


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About ASHM

Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) is a peak organisation of health professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections (STIs). ASHM draws on its experience and expertise to support the health workforce and to contribute to the sector, domestically and internationally.