All posts by editor

The 7th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU 2018)

The 7th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU 2018) is to be held at Hotel Cascais Miragem, Cascais, Portugal, 19 – 21 September 2018.

For the first time, the symposium is being developed by four co-convenors; Dr. Ricardo Baptiste Leite, Prof. Jeffrey Lazarus, Prof. Rui Tato Marinho and Luís Mendão bringing together Policy, Research, Clinical and Community perspectives.

Hosted by INHSU, the symposium covers the latest advances on hepatitis C epidemiology, management and treatment of viral hepatitis among people who use drugs, with a specific focus on hepatitis C. Through dissemination of scientific knowledge the Symposium aims to contribute to the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030.

Abstract Submission: 11 May 2018
Scholarship Applications: 11 May 2018
Early Bird Registration: 29 June 2018
Standard Registration: 31 August 2018
Symposium Dates: 19 – 21 September 2018

For more information visit

Contact details
INHSU Symposium Secretariat
P: +61 2 8204 0770

World Hepatitis Day 2018 “New opportunities and challenges in the elimination of viral hepatitis in the ACT”

World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on 28 July, with the aim of bringing the world together under one single theme in order to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and the impact it has worldwide. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2018 is “Eliminate Hepatitis”.

Hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are the leading cause of liver cancer in the world, yet more than 80% of those affected with viral hepatitis are unaware of their status. Viral hepatitis does not restrict itself to one specific region There are many effective vaccines and treatments available for hepatitis B and new treatments for hepatitis C and eliminating viral hepatitis is highly achievable. According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy of Viral Hepatitis, the goal is to do so by 2030.

The question is, how? There are 325 million people that are living with viral hepatitis in the world, yet up to 290 million of these are unaware that they have it. In recognition of this, The World Hepatitis Alliance are launching a campaign in association with World Hepatitis Day, which aims to focus on ‘finding the missing millions’. The three-year awareness campaign aims to educate, influence national screening policies and encourage more people to get tested with the hope of finding the missing millions and reducing further spread of the viruses. To accompany the campaign, a white paper is being written to provide stakeholders with information on how to reach the goal, or people, but is found worldwide making it a global epidemic.

This year to mark World Hepatitis Day , Hepatitis ACT is inviting you to join us for a reflection of the current evidence, perspectives of people living with viral hepatitis, exploration of new community based models and a lively discussion about the future pathways at our event ‘New Opportunities and Challenges in the Elimination of Viral Hepatitis in the ACT’ .

DATE: Friday, 27 July 2018
TIME: 10am to 12.30 pm. A light lunch will be provided
Venue: Canberra Museum and Gallery, 176 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601
RSVP: By COB Monday 20 July by phone 62306344 or via email (


Media Release: 9 March 2018

The inclusion of the recommendation to introduce a needle and syringe program (NSP) within Canberra’s prison in the ACT Health Service Commissioner’s review of the opioid replacement treatment program at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) released today has been welcomed by Hepatitis ACT.

“This review continues to build the picture of the pattern of drug use within the prison and continues to point to the need for the full suite of strategies to reduce the harms associated with drug use in AMC. If we are serious about reducing the harms arising from drug use within AMC, this must include access to a regulated NSP,” said Hepatitis ACT’s interim Executive Officer Rebecca Vassarotti.

“Findings contained in the review include the fact that there is a culture of drug seeking within the prison. This further strengthens the evidence that illicit drugs are being accessed in the prison, and like in the rest of the community, a regulated NSP within the prison would reduce harms associated with injecting drug use, and protect health of detainees while in the prison.”

“There have been great strides made within AMC to reduce the rates of Hepatitis C and other infections through access to testing and treatment. However, we know that these efforts are being undermined by the fact that proven initiatives such as an NSP cannot currently be provided within the prison.”

“It’s important to acknowledge the fears and concerns of custodial staff, who have to date sought to block the introduction of this proven harm reduction strategy. This must however be tempered by the evidence that NSPs in prisons are both safe for staff and feasible, and constitute an important part of broader strategies to combat the spread of HIV, Hepatitis and other blood borne viruses.”

“Hepatitis ACT hopes that this review will provide an opportunity to re-open the discussion about an NSP in AMC and enables the AMC to fulfil its promise of being a human rights compliant facility,” Ms Vassarotti concluded.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Vassarotti, Interim Executive Officer, Hepatitis ACT, 0402 545 640

Hepatitis C Direct Acting Antiviral Treatment Rates are ‘Tanking’

Despite new 95% curative treatments being listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at a huge cost to the taxpayer, the provision of treatment is failing to connect with hundreds of thousands of Australians living with hepatitis C.

This means the Government is at risk of missing its target to eradicate hepatitis C by 2030 and risks spending far more money on the treatments than could otherwise be necessary.

Recent data shows fewer than half as many people are now accessing the direct acting antivirals as were being treated immediately after they were first listed on the PBS in March 2016.

Hepatitis ACT does not agree with mainstream media characterization that life-saving medicines are being ignored by people living with hepatitis C. The reasons for declining treatment rates are complex and various. Blaming affected populations for ‘failing’ anything completely misses the point.

Shine a Spotlight on Liver Disease for World Cancer Day

Media Release: 3 February 2018

Shine a Spotlight on Liver Disease for World Cancer Day

On Sunday 4 February 2018 – World Cancer Day – Hepatitis ACT  joins with thousands of organisations globally and locally in highlighting the devastating impact cancer can have on individuals, families and communities across the world.

Hepatitis ACT Executive Officer John Didlick said “Hepatitis ACT is committed to the on-going fight against cancer and on World Cancer Day we’re raising awareness of the urgent actions required to address the alarming liver cancer burden.”

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are preventable yet significant causes of liver cancer. Together they caused up to 640,000 cancer deaths globally each year. The total liver cancer death toll worldwide is second only to lung cancer.

In Australia an estimated 440,000 people are living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In Canberra the figure is around 7,000 people of whom an estimated 2,100 people are unaware of their condition.

John Didlick said “In Australia the rate of cancer deaths is decreasing overall, and at the same time liver cancer mortality is rising rapidly”.

  • From 1968 to 2015 Australia’s overall cancer mortality rate decreased from 199 deaths per 100,000 people to 164 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • In dramatic contrast, in the same period, Australia’s population doubled whilst deaths from liver cancer increased almost 16 fold (from 117 deaths in 1968 to 1,820 deaths in 2015).

On World Cancer Day Hepatitis ACT is calling for health care professionals and affected communities to help spread the World Cancer Day message that #WeCanICan take action to help prevent and fight cancer.

“Hepatitis ACT urges people with a family history of liver disease and people who might have been exposed to hepatitis B and hepatitis C to talk to their doctor about getting themselves and their family tested” said Mr Didlick.

He said: “There is a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B, so people who are tested and found to be vulnerable to infection can get immunised for life-long protection. People with hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral medicines that dramatically reduce the incidence of liver cancer.”

“People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C can access new subsidised antiviral treatments that are safer, easier to take than previous treatments, and which cure hepatitis C for 95% of people”, John Didlick said.

Hepatitis ACT is Canberra’s community hepatitis organisation, working to help prevent hepatitis transmission in the community and reduce the impacts for people affected by viral hepatitis. Hepatitis ACT is funded by ACT Health to provide no-cost hepatitis information, support and prevention education. To find out more, call (02) 6230 6344 or visit

A Timely Reminder: Hepatitis A is Vaccine-Preventable.

Following 27 confirmed hepatitis A cases in 9 months affecting men who have sex with men (MSM) (and to a lesser extent people who inject drugs) in Victoria, and a further 13 cases in South Australia since November 2017, senior public health officials in those states have issued advice promoting hepatitis A vaccinations.

There have been no similar notifications in the ACT, however men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs are reminded about the importance of vaccination.

  • Hepatitis A is entirely preventable through a safe and effective vaccine.
  • Infection usually follows direct contact with an infected person and can include sexual contact, contaminated food (e.g. poor hand hygiene), contaminated water (particularly in developing countries), and less-commonly through unsterile injecting practices.
  • Talk to your doctor, sexual health clinic or alcohol & other drug service about getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
  • Protection begins within 14-21 days after the first dose of the hepatitis A vaccine. A second dose of vaccine is required for long-term protection.
  • The duration of immunity following a second dose is not certain, however for most people it is 10 years or more.

The Mardi Gras parade is coming up (four weeks from the date this notice is published). Protection from vaccination can take up to three weeks.  #justsayin

More information and support about hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C is available at Hepatitis ACT:


Health Records Compromised: Privacy Concerns For People With Stigmatised Conditions

Concerning reports are circulating about a government data bungle potentially exposing ten percent of private health records. Researchers from the University of Melbourne have reportedly been able to establish the identity of patients from confidential data published by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Seemingly this includes MBS and PBS claims data, and is of concern to people living with stigmatising conditions such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C. For more information:

Great progress on viral hepatitis but still too early to celebrate


Media Release

6 November 2017

The number of Australians living with hepatitis C and advanced liver disease has fallen for the first time in ten years but elimination of the virus remains uncertain, according to campaigners.

Published today, the Kirby Institute’s latest Annual Surveillance Report on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible Infections in Australia reveals that between March and December 2016, an estimated 30,343 people were cured of hepatitis C following treatment with new direct acting antiviral therapy.

Responding to the Kirby Institute’s report, Hepatitis Australia’s Acting CEO Kevin Marriott said that Australia needs to capitalise on this early success to ensure all Australians impacted by viral hepatitis have access to effective treatment and care.

“As incredible as it is that more than 30,000 Australians have been treated for hepatitis C, there are still 200,000 Australians living with the virus who are at risk of serious liver disease,” he said.

“Australia is a leader in the global response to hepatitis C, but even with cures readily available, the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030 is not guaranteed.

“In 2017, demand for these medical miracles has fallen sharply. A concerted effort is needed to break down the barriers to more Australians speaking to their GP about
hepatitis C treatment.”

The Kirby data also reveals that over the past five years hepatitis B diagnoses have declined by 27 per cent in people aged less than 25 years, largely due to infant and adolescent vaccination programs.

Mr Marriott said that the success of hepatitis B vaccination is good news, but that Australia is still failing to effectively diagnose and treat hepatitis B.

Only 63 per cent of the estimated 230,000 people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia have been diagnosed, and only a third are having their hepatitis B regularly monitored.

“We urge Australians who know they are living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C to seek a liver check-up and discuss treatment options with their doctor,” said Mr Marriott.

Hepatitis Australia has published a roadmap to eliminating viral hepatitis in Australia, available at National Infoline: 1800 437 222

Media Contact: Fiona Beveridge – 0405 902 826

Documenting stories of family life in the context of hep B or hep C

Researchers at the University of NSW are investigating the impact of family support in dealing with viral hepatitis. They are looking to recruit people with lived experience of hepatitis B or hepatitis C as well as their family support network, to be interviewed face to face, for the My Health, Our Family research project.

“We have more to do to reach our desired sample size of 90,” said Associate Professor Christy Newman from the Centre for Social Research in Health. “We need to recruit more participants but, the recruitment of family members, people with hepatitis B and people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander needs some additional, targeted, recruitment.”

Interviews, will explore the practical impact on everyday life of serodiscordance, how individuals and their families make sense of and respond to issues of shame, stigma and secrecy, and how they allocate and negotiate responsibilities within the family including: care and treatment, disclosure, information management, infection control, relations with extended family, school, and workplaces.

Recruitment has so far focused on Sydney and the surrounding region. Participants must have lived experience of either hepatitis B or hepatitis C and be over 16 years of age. It doesn’t matter whether they have been cured or not. The term ‘family’ has been defined broadly, to include partners, parents, children, siblings and extended family, as well as families of choice, affinity, or intimate connection.

People who participate in the study will generate new and significant knowledge about the needs and challenges of families affected by serodiscordance, which can inform existing service design and delivery. In addition, having one’s story validated as significant can be a positive and liberating experience for some people who live with a stigmatised condition such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Participants in this study will be offered a Coles/Myer gift card to the value of $40 as reimbursement for their time and any related expenses. Please consider mentioning the study to patients and clients of your service.

All the information is here, including a form for anyone who is interested in taking part.

To find out more, please contact:
0457 241 386

2017 Hepatitis C Change Makers

Hepatitis ACT congratulates the 18 hepatitis C change makers recognised for their innovative, replicable, scalable, feasible and meaningful impacts in hepatitis C elimination. In particular we acknowledge the three Australian recipients: Helen Tyrrell (Hepatitis Australia), Melanie Eagle (Hepatitis Victoria) and Professor Greg Dore (UNSW; St Vincent’s Hospital).

The Economist Intelligence Unit HCV C Change Makers program recognises 18 hepatitis C innovators doing exemplary work in the program’s three thematic areas: multi-stakeholder approaches; screening; and technology. The innovators’ ground-breaking efforts inspire and guide their peers on the path to HCV elimination. The program also aims to spark debate and action on hepatitis C policy and access to care.

While prevention and treatment of hepatitis C (HCV) have traditionally been fragmented, multi-sector collaboration to address health gaps is becoming increasingly common. The success of Australia’s response to hepatitis C has been underpinned by a partnership approach across the government, community, clinical and research sectors.

For 2017 Professor Greg Dore and Helen Tyrrell have been recognised for their efforts in multi-stakeholder approaches.
• Prof Dore heads up the Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Programme at the Kirby Institute and is an Infectious Diseases Physician at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
• Helen Tyrrell is the CEO of Hepatitis Australia, the peak community hepatitis organisation in Australia with a mission to lead an effective national community response to hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Australia.

Australia has also been recognised in the area of technology. This looks at the role of technology in delivering information that supports prevention and connectedness to care. The CEO of Hepatitis Victoria, Melanie Eagle has been acknowledged for raising awareness of Hepatitis C amongst healthcare practitioners with online education tools, and amongst patients with a mobile app to assess liver health information.

To find out more and to see who else has been recognised go to