Issue 4
Monday, 28 May 2018
Charles Darwin University
Infectious diseases expert Dr Jane Davies
Infectious diseases expert Dr Jane Davies

Partnership to eliminate hep B from NT

An important collaboration working to eliminate chronic hepatitis B (CHB) from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Northern Territory was established earlier this month.

Menzies School of Health Research received National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding and will work with the NT Department of Health and community service providers to eliminate the chronic disease from the NT.

The NHMRC funding of $1.4 million will support the $5.2 million Menzies-led hep B PAST project, which will identify and treat those suffering the burden of CHB.

Menzies infectious diseases expert and Royal Darwin Hospital specialist physician, Dr Jane Davies, said the project was designed to rid the chronic disease from the NT’s Indigenous population.

CHB infection is common in NT communities, with a prevalence of up to 12 per cent. Of those living with CHB, 25 per cent will die from it with either liver failure or liver cancer.

“By elimination we mean no more new cases acquired in the NT alongside providing gold standard care for existing cases,” Dr Davies said.

“We aim to focus on improving health literacy about hepatitis B among Indigenous communities, people living with CHB and primary health care providers, with the use of the Hep B Story app, which will be translated into 10 more Aboriginal languages and delivered by trained Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

“We also want to improve the care for individuals living with CHB by establishing an NT HBV clinical register, supporting ongoing healthcare provider training, and the coordinated transition of CHB care into primary care.”

The team will be led by Dr Jane Davies and the NT Department of Health, in partnership with Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the NT Aids and Hepatitis Council and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine.