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WA Health campaign urges Aboriginal people to 'never share needles'

Date posted: 14 September 2016

A new campaign by Western Australia (WA) Health, to be launched this week, is urging Aboriginal people to 'look after your blood' and 'never share needles', as hepatitis C in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations ramps up to a 10-year high.

WA Health’s communicable disease control director, Dr Paul Armstrong, said the 10-week campaign was aimed at reducing the rates of HIV and hepatitis C in the Aboriginal population.

Dr Armstrong said people with bloodborne viruses often looked and felt healthy, so encouraging people at risk to get tested was a key factor in reducing bloodborne viruses.

'New diagnoses of hepatitis C have been gradually increasing in the Aboriginal population across Australia over the past five years, most commonly in 20 to 49 year olds,' he said. 'In WA, hepatitis C notifications in Aboriginal people reached a 10-year high in 2014, with the rate being 22 times higher than in non-Aboriginal people.'

'The proportion of newly diagnosed HIV infections in Australia attributed to injecting drug use was also much higher in Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people — 16% compared to three per cent, respectively.

'It is vital to increase awareness among Aboriginal people that by sharing injecting equipment, such as needles, they can make themselves sick and this can impact on their communities.'

Dr Armstrong said a range of new treatments made it possible for people with bloodborne viruses to continue to live long and healthy lives. He said treatments with few side effects were now available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and provided a cure for 95% of people with chronic hepatitis C. Highly effective treatments were also available for people living with HIV.

The campaign involves TV, radio, online and social media promotions over 10 weeks. It was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Health Workers and leaders from regional and metropolitan areas.

Source: Perthnow

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Last updated: 16 September 2016
 
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute