The ‘Positively Hep’ hepatitis C education, screening, management and treatment project has brought together the SouthCourt Primary Care team, Nepean Sexual Health Clinic, Liver Clinic and Pharmacy to increase access to hepatitis C screening and improve the experience of clients receiving treatment.
Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Liver Clinic, Vince Fragomeli explains that the recent release of new medications known as Direct Acting Antivirals (DAAs) has changed the landscape of hepatitis C management, enabling access to treatment which may have previously been beyond the reach of NSP clients.
"There are now less treatment side effects, regimes are more manageable and cure rates have increased dramatically since the release of DAAs. These factors lead us to explore a partnership project that enabled client access to treatment within NSP," says Vince.
It’s this partnership project that has resulted in improvements to access and care for clients with hepatitis C at NBMLHD.
‘Positively Hep’ encourages NSP clients who believe they are at high risk of having hepatitis C to hear all about the new, improved treatments, and then undergo screening and assessment within the familiar and supportive environment of SouthCourt. If suitable for treatment, they are managed in-house by the NSP nursing team with supervision from a Specialist Liver Clinical Nurse Consultant and Sexual Health Specialist.
"The NSP nurses are now skilled with the fibroscan wand, a non-invasive test used to assess liver disease, and are competent in screening and assessment of hepatitis C. The program has strengthened relationships between SouthCourt, the Liver Clinic, Sexual Health Clinic and Pharmacy Department who are all integral to ensuring a smooth transition to treatment and ongoing management for clients," says NSP Team Leader, Julie Page.
According to Julie, since ‘Positively Hep’ began in March 2016, over 118 clients have been screened with 26 testing positive to hepatitis C.
"Clients have been encouraged to spread the word about the new treatments and as a result, recruitment for screening has reached four layers deep into networks of people who may not otherwise have attended a health facility."
"Reducing the pool of hepatitis C in high risk groups will reduce overall rates of liver disease, liver failure and cancer and in time, minimise costs to the health system. More than that though, the success of the partnership means access to treatment in NBMLHD provides a respectful opportunity to ensure equality of hepatitis C treatment is available to all who need it, and provides a model of care which can be replicated in other LHD’s," says Julie.