World Hep Day 2021 videos-
PATH- Peer Assisted Treatment for Hep C
World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on 28 July to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer. This year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait”. With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis. There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common which result in 1.1 million deaths and 3 million new infections per year.
“Hep Can’t Wait and neither can social change."
-Harm Reduction Victoria Statement on World Hepatitis Day 2021
For World Hepatitis Day 2021 Harm Reduction Victoria says that while Hep Can’t Wait, we also believe rapid, simplified testing & treatment can’t wait, more peer workers in hepatitis C treatment can’t wait, social equity can’t wait, and decriminalisation can’t wait.
Harm Reduction Victoria fully stands behind the effort to eliminate hepatitis C in Victoria but believes that the social conditions faced by many people who use drugs are standing in the way of this drive. More options for simplified testing and treatment are needed so we can prioritise hepatitis C.
Harm Reduction Victoria’s experience as the peer organisation for people who use drugs in Victoria gives us unique insight into the social dynamics and health needs of the community of people who inject drugs.
Hep C, while a key issue for people who inject drugs, is unlikely to overtake the day-to-day priorities faced by the most marginalised of us. Due to criminalisation, stigma and discrimination, poverty, and the complications of managing dependence, many in our community already have an overwhelming burden of urgent issues to deal with.
Immediate priorities like housing; employment; Centrelink or job service obligations; corrections requirements; child protection issues; raising money to buy food or drugs; all take up time and energy in daily life for many of us. While the community recognises that hep C treatment is beneficial for individuals, and elimination would be momentous; a disease that might cause death or illness in one’s future is almost never going to feel as urgent as the survival issues faced by PWID on a daily basis.
If we are going to eliminate hep C by 2030, we will need to both assist people to resolve these issues and urgently attend to the structural issues that underpin our marginalisation – criminalisation, discrimination and social inequity.
Right now, we need to ensure that those who wish to have a range of ways to access testing & treatment for hep C, including simplified one-stop testing and treatment, and we need to continue to find ways to make hep C treatment top of mind, including by incentivising treatment.