World Hepatitis Day Alert - July 2012
ATODA eBulletin -

Hepatitis is a significant health concern globally, nationally and in the ACT community, particularly amongst people with a history of injecting drug use.  To mark 2012 World Hepatitis Day, ATODA, the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre and the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) have developed this alert to support stakeholders to connect with recent developments in the area.

About World Hepatitis Day

On 28 July 2012 people around the world come together to mark World Hepatitis Day and raise awareness of viral hepatitis, disease prevention and access to testing and treatment. The day is coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance and recognised by the World Health Organization as one of only four disease related official days.

Hepatitis kills around one million people globally every year. Millions more suffer immediate sickness or long-term ill health.  World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to recognise viral hepatitis as a major global health problem in order to advance prevention and control.  For further information follow them on twitter @Hep_Alliance  and @WHO or visit

In the ACT a number of events are scheduled to mark World Hepatitis Day

Date: 25 July 2012
Time: 9:30am - 12:30pm
Location: ADS Building 7
For more information: call Geoff Ward on (02) 6279 1670 or email

Information Stall
Date: 26 July 2012
Time: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: Garema Place, Civic
For more information: call Geoff Ward or Aimee Capper on (02) 6279 1670 or email or

Love Your Liver - Soup and Information
CAHMA and the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre
All those living with, or having an interest in, viral hepatitis are invited to participate.
Date: 27 July 2012
Time: 12pm
Location: Petrie Plaza, near the Merry-go-round
For more information: call the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre on (02) 6230 6344 or email

Community and Stakeholder Forum
ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre
An expert panel of speakers will address hepatitis treatment options, outcomes, preventing infection and prison health, and the views of consumers.
Date: 30 July 2012
Time: 12pm - 1:30pm
Location: Canberra Hospital Auditorium
For more information and to RSVP: call the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre on (02) 6230 6344 or email

Hepatitis Awareness Promotion at the Connection BBQ
Date: 2 August 2012
Time: 12:30pm - 3:30pm
Location: The Boomerang Centre
For more information and to RSVP: call Aimee Capper on (02) 6279 1670 or email

Injecting Drug Use and Hepatitis C & B in the ACT

Hepatitis C and hepatitis B are blood borne viruses and are transmitted when the blood of an infected person enters the bloodstream of another person. Injecting drug use is a major risk factor for the transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the hepatitis B virus (HBV) through sharing injecting equipment and contaminated injecting environments. As the Kirby Institute points out, ‘Based on reported cases, [in 2010] hepatitis B and hepatitis C transmission in Australia continued to occur predominantly among people with a recent history of injecting drug use’.

In 2010, injecting drug use was the source of infection in 86% of the newly diagnosed cases of HCV infection in Australia for which data on the source were available (the same proportion as in the previous year). For hepatitis B, injecting drug use accounted for 74% of newly diagnosed cases (55% the previous year).

In addition to unsafe injecting drug use, other risk factors include unsterile tattooing and body piercing, unsterile medical procedures or vaccinations (particularly in countries with high rates of infection), sharing personal grooming equipment such as razors and toothbrushes, and needlestick injuries and accidental exposure to infected blood or blood products. Whilst hepatitis B is also a sexually transmitted infection, the transmission of hepatitis C is rarely associated with sexual activity unless such activity leads to blood-to-blood contact. Perinatal infection (from mother to unborn child) can be a source of hepatitis B transmission.

In 2010 there were 223 (165 in the previous year) diagnoses of HCV infection in the ACT, a rate of 58 (44 in the previous year) per 100,000, and higher than the national rate of 50 (52 in the previous year) per 100,000. Both the national and ACT rates of diagnoses have fallen steadily in recent years.

The general trend of declining hepatitis C notifications is overshadowed however by the escalating burden of disease. Age-standardised rates for liver cancer (significantly underpinned by hepatitis C and B related liver disease) are projected to increase by 38% from 2007 to 2020 in males and 78% in females.

For further information see:
McDonald, D 2012, The extent and nature of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related harms, in the Australian Capital Territory, 4th edition, ACT Government Health Directorate, Canberra.

Hepatitis Videos

Love Your Liver this World Hepatitis Day Flash Mob (Full Version)
Hepatitis Australia's World Hepatitis Day Flash Mob has our lovable O'liver getting people moving in Sydney. Learn more about your liver at loveyourliver and watch this video here

World Hepatitis Alliance
View the Alliance’s 2012 video here

Resources and Tools

Hepatitis C and Harm Minimisation
Hepatitis NSW
This factsheet provides an overview of harm minimisation within the Australian national context.

Guides to Safer Injecting & Cleaning Used Syringes
Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL)
These guides were developed with input from drug users and other specialists around Australia, to help reduce blood borne viruses such as hepatitis C, and HIV while injecting.
The best way to avoid contracting hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B is not to inject. For those who choose to inject, download the guides here

National Hepatitis Testing Portal
These national testing portal and associated testing policies are targeted towards health professionals ordering HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B related tests, and receiving and interpreting results. They set out the framework for providing quality testing and removing real and perceived barriers to testing.
For more information visit the testing portal here


National Policy for Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections
Australian Government
A range of national strategies exist to guide policies in relation to the prevention, testing, treatment and more in relation to BBVs and STIs. The strategies (linked below) identify priority actions in relation to key target groups including people who inject drugs.
ACT Policy for Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections
ACT Government
This policy highlights the commonalities between the approaches outlined in each national strategy, enabling a more coordinated response from ACT Health, Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and other service providers and policy makers. However, the differences between HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and Sexually Transmissible Infections and their priority populations are recognised and addressed where appropriate. It can be viewed here

Alcohol, Tobacco And Other Drug Strategy 2010 - 2014
ACT Government
The ACT Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Strategy 2010-2014 outlines a series of actions aimed at reducing the harms associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in the ACT community. The Strategy reports in detail on a number of areas, outlining a current assessment of the situation and challenges, identifying target populations and areas for further intervention, and where appropriate, describing drug availability. It can be viewed here

Treatment for Hepatitis C

The way that hepatitis C is treated in Australia is going through a period of rapid change due to significant research breakthroughs in our understanding of the virus, and the development of different types of drugs that can be used to treat the infection. Hepatitis Australia has developed an easy to read guide to current and emerging hepatitis C treatments. The guide can be accessed here

Testing, Treatment and Support Services in the ACT

A range of referral options are available in the ACT and nationally regarding blood borne virus support and needle and syringe programs. For more information see the descriptions below and the ACT ATOD Services Directory

Needle and Syringe Programs
NSPs are a public health measure, consistent with ACT Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Strategy 2010 –2014 and The National Drug Strategy 2010– 2015’s harm minimisation framework, to reduce the spread of infections such as HIV and hepatitis C & B among people who inject drugs. They provide a range of services that include provision of sterile injecting equipment, education on reducing drug use, health information, and referral to drug treatment, medical care and legal and social services. The injecting equipment provided includes needles and syringes, swabs, vials of sterile water and ‘sharps bins’ for the safe disposal of used needles and syringes (Source: Dolan, K., MacDonald, M., Silins, E. & Topp, l. 2005. Needle and syringe programs: A review of the evidence. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing).

For a full list of Needle and Syringe Programs in the ACT including primary, secondary and pharmacy outlets see the ACT ATOD Services Directory

ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre
Delivers a comprehensive range of information, education, prevention, health promotion, liver health, and support services with a view to reducing the prevalence and impacts of viral hepatitis in the ACT community. 

For more iPhone: (02) 6230 6344  or visit the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre at 
36 David St, Turner, ACT.

Althea Wellness Centre, DIRECTIONS ACT
Provides primary health care and clinics for people with past or current ATOD issues.
For more information: phone (02) 6122 8080 or visit their website

Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy
Provides a peer based users group run by and for past or current illicit / injecting drug users, including support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through The Connection Program.
For more information: phone (02) 6279 1670 or visit their website

Canberra Sexual Health Centre
Provides testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, counselling and information on sexual health issues.
For more information: phone (02) 6244 2184 or visit their website

Our C-ciety, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
Provides peer support, information and advice to help people through hepatitis C treatments.
For more information: visit their website

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT)
Provides clinical sexual and reproductive health services (including testing).
For more information: call (02) 6247 3077 or visit their website

Training and Professional Development

Hepatitis Education and Information Sessions
ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre
Hepatitis information, education and workforce development sessions can be tailored to meet the needs of target populations and those who provide services for them in areas such as AOD treatment and support, prison and post-release, crisis and supported accommodation, mental health and comorbidity, youth and women’s health.
For more information or to arrange a session: call (02) 6230 6344 or visit their website

Safer Injecting Workshops
Peer education workshops, for illicit and injecting drug users, with the aim of reducing risky behaviours and drug related harms.
For more information: call (02) 6279 1670 or visit their website

NSP Training
Provides Health Directorate endorsed needle and syringe program training across the ACT. 
For more information: call (02) 6122 8000 or visit their website

Hepatitis Online Learning: A Resource for Health Professionals
Edith Cowan University
A free online learning program with the primary aim of increasing the delivery of a safe Hepatitis B and C treatment program to patients through the education of medical practitioners, nurses and other health professionals.
For more information: visit the program's website

Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference
Australasian Society for HIV Medicine
The Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference is the leading Asia - Pacific meeting addressing research and treatment around Viral Hepatitis. This conference, with integrated programming of sessions and a plethora of international and local speakers, provides an opportunity for issues to be examined across all disciplines, as relevant to laboratory research, clinical care, public health initiatives, community and policy sectors, from Australia to New Zealand, the Asia Pacific and beyond.
It also provides you with a great opportunity to network and learn about new tools and techniques to improve your skills set; learn about processes or best practices to increase productivity and efficiency, emerging and new technologies and advancements in clinical approaches.
Date: 10-12 September 2012
Venue: Auckland, New Zealand
Cost: Varies – see website for details
For more information: Visit the conference website, email or call 02 8204 0770

Blood Borne Virus Management in Prisons

Consensus Statement: Addressing Hepatitis C in Australian Custodial Settings
Hepatitis Australia
Custodial settings provide a unique opportunity to protect and enhance the health of marginalised individuals and populations through prevention and treatment programs. The consensus statement addressing hepatitis C in Australian custodial settings document provides information on the evidence base related to hepatitis C in custodial settings, associated harms, a summary of Australia's policy and treatment response and concludes with recommended actions.
Download the Consensus Statement

How Risky is Drug Injection in Australian Prisons?
Kinner, SA, Jenkinson, R, Gouillou, M & Milloy, MJ 2012, ‘High-risk drug-use practices among a large sample of Australian prisoners’, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, in press.
Interviews of over a thousand adult prisoners in Queensland found that 23% had injected drugs while in prison and that 13% had done so during their current sentence. Males, those who had been unemployed prior to being imprisoned, and those who had used three or more types of drugs prior to being imprisoned were more likely to have injected drugs while in prison. They were also more likely than other prisoners to have shared needles or syringes, to have received a tattoo while in prison, and to have been exposed to hepatitis C. The researchers concluded that ‘Drug injection in prison is common and, given the associations between in-prison drug injection and syringe sharing, unsafe tattooing and HCV exposure, poses a risk to both prisoner health and public health. There remains an urgent need to implement evidence-based infection control measures, including needle and syringe programs, within prison settings.’

Contact ATODA:

Phone: (02) 6255 4070
Fax: (02) 6255 4649
Mail: PO Box 7187,
Watson ACT 2602
Visit: 350 Antill St. Watson

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The Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA) is the peak body representing the non-government and government alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) sector in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ATODA seeks to promote health through the prevention and reduction of the harms associated with ATOD. 

Views expressed in the ACT ATOD Sector eBulletin do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT. Not all third-party events or information included in the eBulletin are endorsed by the ACT ATOD Sector or the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT. No responsibility is accepted by the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT or the editor for the accuracy of information contained in the eBulletin or the consequences of any person relying upon such information. To contact us please email or call (02) 6255 4070.