Hepatitis patients "dying of embarrassment"

Tuesday, 04 April, 2017

Hepatitis patients "dying of embarrassment"

Educating the many people who come into contact with those living with and at risk of viral hepatitis is an important part of eliminating hepatitis B and C in Australia. In response, Hepatitis Victoria has launched its workforce training program HEPReady.

The program, informed by lived experience and devised and facilitated by expert trainers, is tailored to an organisation’s needs and delivered in-house or online as a tutorial-style interactive discussion.

Developed for nurses and other health and community workers, HEPReady has been funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (HMSTrust) to support communication and enable more people with or at risk of hepatitis to test and be treated without stigma.

Speaking at the launch, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Gabrielle Williams MP emphasised the importance of the HEPReady workforce training in tackling stigma and discrimination, the greatest barriers preventing people from being tested and treated for viral hepatitis.

HMSTrust CEO Lin Bender also spoke at the launch, saying, “Frustratingly, the stigma associated with the virus means that less empathy and support is directed to this issue, compared with other life-threatening conditions.”

GP and media health advocate Dr Sally Cockburn (aka Dr Feelgood) agreed.

“I am aware that many people living with hepatitis feel too stigmatised to get help. They are literally dying of embarrassment,” Dr Cockburn said.

“The HEPReady workforce training is a step in the right direction. I hope that it can be expanded at some point to media and the broader public,” she said.

Image caption: The HEPReady team, Hepatitis Victoria.

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