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Another win for the team striving to eliminate hepatitis C in South West Victoria - NHRMC grant success for Barwon Health clinician researcher

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

A strong collaborative approach to hepatitis C testing and treatment has resulted in Western Victoria having the highest hepatitis C treatment uptake rate in the country. The team delivering this outcome has involved general practitioners, harm reduction workers, specialists and community organisations.ID website Amanda wade

Barwon Health is now celebrating the success of Dr Amanda Wade, pictured, Barwon Health infectious diseases physician and senior research fellow at the Burnet Institute, who has been awarded a 5 year NHMRC Emerging Leader Investigator Grant in the latest round of Federal Government research funding to further the work of the South West Victorian hepatitis C elimination team.

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus, most commonly transmitted in Australia by sharing needles, syringes or injecting equipment. Without treatment, hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Since 2016 there has been curative, well-tolerated treatment for hepatitis C.  The effectiveness of treatment and harm reduction measures has led the World Health Organisation to set targets for the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

Although initial hepatitis C treatment uptake rates were high in Australia, for a multitude of reasons treatment uptake has slowed, and to stay on track to achieve the WHO targets an increase in both hepatitis C testing and treatment is required, especially in rural and regional Australia. Access to hepatitis C care in rural and regional Australia relies on general practice, when compared to metropolitan Australia which has a higher access to specialist care. Factoring this in is critical in planning successful models of care to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment in Barwon South West.

Raising awareness and decreasing stigma are vital to the elimination of hepatitis C, and Barwon Health was fortunate to work with the ‘It’s your Right’ hepatitis C treatment campaign, led by Harm Reduction Victoria and co-designed with the Burnet Institute. Amanda and her colleague, community viral hepatitis nurse Inga Tribe, worked with LiverWell for Liver Awareness Month 2022, and were interviewed to profile people working in liver health alongside people with lived experience of liver disease.

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NHRMC Investigator Grants are highly sought and respected, with an application success rate of only 16% each year. As an infectious diseases physician who balances clinical work with implementation research, Dr Wade’s achievement is an inspiration to all current and future clinician researchers.

To find out more about research at Barwon Health, click here.

To find out more about hepatitis C testing and treatment in Victoria, click here.