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New app targets hepatitis B treatment

By Lucy Barnard

The Hep B Story App has been designed to enable Indigenous people and their health care workers to overcome language barriers The Hep B Story App has been designed to enable Indigenous people and their health care workers to overcome language barriers

Menzies School of Health Research has launched a new iPad app as an educational tool designed to help address the prevalence and severity of hepatitis B infections in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

Between 10 and 20 per cent of the Indigenous population in Northern Australia are infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) which can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

The Hep B Story App has been designed to enable Indigenous people and their health care workers to overcome language barriers and achieve shared understanding of living with the infection and appropriate treatment.

The interactive app was officially unveiled at a ceremony held in Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island with key community members directly involved in the app’s design. The app incorporates talking text in the local language, Yolngu Matha, as well as English.

Research project leader, Dr Jane Davies said the Menzies Hep B team had been motivated by an ever-present desire for knowledge among community members to drive the development of an information tool that will meet educational needs.

“The Menzies Hep B Team has spent the past two years collaborating and developing an educational tool to help develop strong treatment partnerships between health workers, community members and Indigenous patients with HBV,” Dr Davies said.

“We have had a lot of enthusiasm throughout the development of the app from both health workers and patients, and look forward to seeing the app in use.”

The app will soon be available for download free of charge from iTunes.

To find out more about Menzies’ global and tropical health research, visit W: menzies.edu.au/page/Research/Global_and_Tropical_Health/