Providing support for hepatitis
TasCAHRD is the peak body for viral hepatitis in Tasmania.
We support those living with or at risk of hepatitis by providing case management, 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
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)
- Sharing injecting equipment
- Unsterile tattoo & piercing procedures
- Medical & dental procedures in developing countries
- Blood transfusions in Australia before 1990
- 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
- Sharing food or eating utensils
- Insect and animal bites
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, headache, 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 people who are currently injecting drugs, people in prison, people with liver damage, and people who have been cured of hepatitis C before.
Often asymptomatic, but may include flu-like symptoms, fatigue, abdominal pain, or jaundice
Sexual contact, injecting drug use, tattoos and piercings, childbirth, unsterile medical/dental procedures
Venipuncture (blood draw)
No cure, but highly effective medication and regular liver monitoring will prevent liver damage
Using the right language
Transmitinstead of give, infected or spread
Transmission is the correct term when referring to the virus passing from one person to another
Contract, acquired or diagnosedCatch/caught, became, infected with
These terms suggest something that is contagious and should be avoided or feared
Person living with Hepatitisinstead 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 Hepatitisinstead 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 uses or no longer use drugs/injects drugsinstead 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 Hepatitisinstead 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 equipmentinstead 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 virusinstead 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 sexinstead of unprotected sex
In addition to condoms, there are other strategies to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV such as PrEP, PEP, and Treatment as Prevention