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Stories

HEP Hero Dr. Matt Penn

January 24, 2022

Dr. Matt Penn

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your history.

I am a General Practitioner of Medicine. I work at North Richmond Community Health where we provide health care services to a diverse range of patients. This includes people who immigrated to Australia from a wide range of countries, culturally and linguistically diverse patients, Aboriginal people, and the wider general community. We provide health care to people who inject drugs and a large number of homeless patients.

Tell us about your journey and how it relates to hepatitis.

I first became involved in managing viral hepatitis when I started working at the Victorian AIDS Council. We had many people living with both HIV and viral hepatitis attending our clinic. I undertook further training via the Australian Society for HIV and Viral Hepatitis Medicine to increase my knowledge and skills.

Why do you think it’s important to get the message out?

We know from epidemiological studies that blood borne viruses are under-diagnosed in Australia and that many people are not aware that they are living with Hepatitis B, C or HIV. Furthermore, we know that many people who are aware of their blood borne virus status are not engaged in appropriate health care. We need to involve people living with a blood borne virus in effective management plans to achieve goals of reducing mortality, morbidity and transmission. In order to achieve these goals, we need to increase access to testing, work to decrease stigma and discrimination and improve education and understanding of blood borne viruses.

What is your message to others?

Viral hepatitis is an important health care problem in Australia. We now have effective treatments that can significantly reduce morbidity, mortality and transmission. Health care providers might be unaware that some patients they care for might be living with viral hepatitis. Providing education to health care providers is essential to improving our ability to effectively manage blood borne viruses in Australia. The Australian Society for HIV and Viral Hepatitis Medicine provides excellent training to health care providers that most participants find extremely interesting. I would encourage all health care providers to enroll in one of their viral hepatitis courses.

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