Healthcare workers are at the forefront when it comes to offering prevention information, testing and treatment for groups at risk of hepatitis C. In Victoria, despite direct acting anti-viral ‘miracle drugs’ being available on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, at the end of 2017 less than 29% of people living in Victoria with hepatitis C had taken up curative treatment.
Information and support must be available in all health settings, but there is a need for the healthcare workforce to be skilled at recognising at-risk populations and to be able to talk confidently about blood-borne viruses with their patients/clients, in a non-stigmatising or discriminatory way.
Bringing this problem in sharp relief, Hepatitis Victoria has today released a new anti-stigma video called ‘Lets Talk about Hepatitis C’.
“The video features people with lived experience and healthcare workers who know about hepatitis C and highlights the need for workers on the frontline to be equipped and able to talk about hepatitis C in a range of settings,” said Hepatitis Victoria Health Promotion Project Officer Isabelle Purcell who, with Digital and Online Services Officer Shaun Knott, created the video.
Five participants were interviewed and filmed for the video, two HepSpeakers Moira and Terry, and three healthcare workers, Phoebe a hepatitis C Clinical Nurse Consultant, Jarrod a Pharmacist and Leanne a hepatitis C healthcare worker in the alcohol and other drug sector.
Those with lived experience of the condition were interviewed about their positive and negative experiences of care, especially around disclosure. They were also asked what advice they would give to healthcare professionals about how they would like to be treated best.
Healthcare workers were asked about why broad awareness is important and what approaches and tips and tricks they have in talking about hepatitis C in an appropriate, positive and non-stigmatising manner.
“I think the video helps convey to healthcare workers the issues regarding stigma and viral hepatitis and the barrier this can be to patients feeling comfortable initiating communication,” said Isabelle.
“My hope is that it will encourage healthcare staff to become more aware of viral hepatitis and talk about it in an appropriate manner.’
The video also touches on how a person living with hepatitis C is negatively impacted by poor knowledge on the part of a healthcare worker.
HEPSpeaker Moira says ‘…the infection control consultant was misinformed about how the virus is transmitted…it was the only time I felt grubby.”