Hep C testing clinic opens on 21 April in Burnie
Anglicare will host a free and confidential testing clinic for people at risk of carrying or developing Hepatitis C between 21 April and May 7 in Burnie.
The clinic is being run as part of the Tasmanian Government’s Eliminate Hep C program. Everyone tested will receive a $20 supermarket voucher.
Last month we asked Megan Hughes, a registered nurse from Sexual Health Tasmania, to tell us more about Hepatitis C, how it can be treated and what people can expect from the clinic.
What is Hepatitis C, and who is at risk?
‘Hep C’ is a blood-borne virus that damages a person’s liver. The virus can be transmitted through the sharing of injecting equipment or if you get a tattoo done with equipment that hasn’t been sterilised, but it’s important to understand that any blood-to-blood contact carries this risk.
Many people don’t know they are carrying the virus, or that there are excellent treatments available. Unfortunately, there is still considerable stigma attached to the condition.
What symptoms should people look out for?
Everyone experiences Hep C differently, but symptoms can include tiredness, trouble sleeping, mood swings, anxiety and depression, nausea and poor appetite. But it’s important to remember that people don’t show any symptoms at all. The earlier you seek treatment the better – and a test is the only way you can find out if you have Hep C.
How do people access the clinic?
Simply drop into Anglicare’s office at 51 Wilmot Street Burnie at a time and date listed below. You don’t need an appointment.
What do they need to bring?
Just a Medicare card and a phone number we can contact you on.
Why is the clinic being held at Anglicare?
The Elminate Hep C program wanted a welcoming, non-judgmental environment, a special space, somewhere that might already be familiar to some people who already access Anglicare’s Needle and Syringe Program, or NSP.
Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people who think they may be at risk to access potentially life-changing treatment.
It’s really handy because the NSP staff are close by if you would like to talk to someone about your drug use, and they can also refer you on to other services that you may require. This is optional; it’s totally up to you.
What does the test involve?
A quick and simple blood sample, taken in a private room.
What happens next?
We will contact you, in full confidence. If your test comes back positive, we will support you. We find out more about your liver health and provide you with a prescription that you take straight to a pharmacy. You don’t need to involve any other medical practitioners unless you want to.
What is the treatment, and how effective is it?
The latest treatment has a 95-97 per cent success rate, and minimal side effects. All you need to do is take one tablet a day for either eight or 12 weeks, depending on whether you may have other health issues. Then there’s a final blood test to confirm that the virus has been cleared from your body.
What difference does it make to a person’s everyday life?
Your quality of life will improve a lot. We want as many people as possible to know that they don’t need to ‘put up’ with this virus any more.
Can a person contract Hepatitis C again after treatment?
Yes, they can. That’s why we encourage people to talk with us about how they can keep themselves virus-free.
Times and dates for Burnie clinic
April 21: 1.00 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.
April 22: 10.00 a.m. – 2.30 p.m.
April 23: 10.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
May 5: 1.00 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.
May 6: 10:00 a.m. – 2.30 p.m.
May 7: 10.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
Anglicare – 1800 243 242
Hepatitis Australia – including information in languages other than English.