Providing support for people affected by hepatitis

TasCAHRD is the peak body for providing support for viral hepatitis in Tasmania.

We support those living with, or at risk of, hepatitis by providing advocacy, referrals, and information about treatment, testing, transmission and prevention.

We also work to improve community health literacy surrounding hepatitis to help reduce stigma and discrimination and transmission while increasing testing and treatment.

1 in 5 people living with
hepatitis C don’t know they have it​

Hepatitis C

Often, people living with hepatitis C do not have any symptoms until their liver is already damaged, which can take many years. If there are symptoms, they could include:

• Fatigue and sleep problems
• Fever and flu-like symptoms
• Aches and pain, including in the liver area (behind ribs on the right side of the belly)
• Changes in mood, including anxiety, depression, and irritability
• Low appetite and nausea
• Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)

Please note that the symptoms can come and go, and may not be enough to make you think of getting a test for hepatitis

Hepatitis C is transmitted when the blood of someone living with hepatitis C gets into someone else’s blood. Even a very small amount of blood can transmit hepatitis C.

Risks include

  • Sharing injecting equipment
  • Unsterile tattoo & piercing procedures
  • Medical & dental procedures in developing countries
  • Blood transfusions in Australia before 1990

Lower risk

  • Needle stick injuries
  • Blood to blood contact in fights
  • Sharing razors and toothbrushes
  • During childbirth
  • Sexual contact where blood is present

Hepatitis C IS NOT transmitted by

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Hugging, handshakes and casual contact
  • Kissing
  • Toilets
  • Sharing food or eating utensils
  • Insect and animal bites
At the moment, in Tasmania, the only way to know if you have hepatitis C is to have a blood test. Hepatitis C tests are not always part of routine blood testing – you might have to ask. GPs and Nurse Practitioners can organise these tests. Testing for hepatitis C may require two different blood tests. You can ask your clinician to order “reflexive hepatitis C” testing which means both tests can be done at the same time.  Blood tests are usually free for people with a Medicare card.

Once hepatitis C enters the body, it can take up to 12 weeks before it can be detected in your blood. It is important to consider this when getting tested. Tests done too early may not be accurate. Even though hepatitis C may not show up on tests during this time, it can still be transmitted to others.

New medicines are now available to cure hepatitis C.

These medicines, known as direct-acting antivirals (or DAAs), cure hepatitis C for over 95% of people.

  • Treatment consists of 1 to 3 tablets taken daily for 8 to 12 weeks. This will depend on which medicine is being used and if there is any liver damage.
  • Side effects from the hepatitis C treatment are uncommon, usually mild, and get better with time. Side effects may include nausea, headaches, and feeling tired.
  • GPs can now prescribe the new DAA medicines, but in some cases they may refer to a specialist if they are concerned about other health problems.
  • The new medicines are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for people over the age of 12 with an Australian Medicare card.
  • Treatment is available for everyone including people who are currently injecting drugs, people in prison, people with liver damage, and people who have been cured of hepatitis C before.

Hepatitis B

The symptoms of Hepatitis B can vary depending on the individual and the stage of the disease. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may have mild to severe symptoms. Common symptoms of acute Hepatitis B include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Joint pain
  • Fever


Some other ways you can contact hepatitis B are:

  • having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom
  • tattooing or body piercing with used  equipment
  • medical procedures with used equipment
  • sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment, including spoons
  • sharing toothbrushes, razors or nail files
  • having cuts or sores that are uncovered.

Hepatitis B can be diagnosed through blood tests that can detect the presence of the virus or the antibodies produced by the body in response to the virus. It is not part of normal blood tests done by your doctor. You need to ask for a special set of tests.

Download testing for hepatitis B fact sheet here >

Although there is no cure found yet, there are some treatments that can help reduce damage to your liver and reduce your viral loads.

It’s important to note that not everyone with hepatitis B requires treatment. In some cases, the virus may not cause any symptoms or long-term damage, and the body may be able to clear the infection on its own. However, even if you do not require treatment, it’s still important to regularly monitor your liver function and receive regular check-ups to ensure that your condition does not worsen over time.

Hepatitis A

Not many people contact hepatitis A in Australia. But some people are more likely to get it:

  • People who inject drugs using needles
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People visiting countries with less access to clean water or sanitation.
  • People who are experiencing homelessness

Sometimes there is an outbreak of hepatitis A, but it is not common.

Bloodwise training

Learn how you can play a part in eliminating transmission

Update your knowledge of hepatitis & HIV by attending a free Bloodwise training from TasCAHRD.

  • Learn about blood borne viruses and how they affect Tasmanians regarding: transmission, treatment, testing, monitoring and stigma & discrimination.
  • Face to face or online

  • Certificate for professional development

People anticipating or experiencing stigma and discrimination are less likely to seek out or stay engaged in prevention or harm reduction strategies or with health and support services​. ​

Using the right language


instead of give, infected or spread

Transmission is the correct term when referring to the virus passing from one person to another

Contract, acquired or diagnosed

Catch/caught, became, infected with

These terms suggest something that is contagious and should be avoided or feared

Person living with Hepatitis

instead of victim, sufferer

While BBVs can have a significant impact on a person, these terms are disempowering and implies they have no control of their lives.

Person living with Hepatitis

instead of carrier, infected, diseased, contaminated

These terms are considered offensive and encourage stigma as they suggest a person should be avoided or feared

Person who use or no longer use drugs/injects drugs

instead of drug user/abuser, addict, junkie Former addict, recovered, clean

Using clear, non-judgemental, and person-first language towards substance use minimises stigma and stereotypes

Person living with Hepatitis

instead of hepatitis positive or hepatitis patient

Use Person-first language. This puts the person before the label and reinforces their humanity instead of their diagnosis and health

Sterile/unsterile, used/unused injecting equipment

instead of clean/dirty needles

These are descriptive words that name the object rather than attributing judgement to the objects and the people that use them

Positive/negative blood screen, blood containing virus

instead of dirty/clean blood or tainted blood

Terms such as dirty/clean imply a value judgement (dirty = bad, clean = good) which reinforces stigma about health and activities

Sex without a condom, condomless sex

instead of unprotected sex

Condoms are only one of the means to achieve safer sex.

28th July, 2023
World Hepatitis Day