Treatment of hepatitis C has been revolutionised in recent years with the introduction of interferon-free direct-acting antiretroviral medications that have far fewer side effects and much higher success rates than past treatments. With the advent of these new treatments, the Australian Government has adopted the World Health Organization’s ambitious goal of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030. Efforts to eliminate hepatitis C depend on consistently high rates of treatment uptake. Reaching all those affected by the disease, informing them about new treatment options, and making sure care and aftercare are adequate, are ongoing challenges. While hepatitis C elimination is an important public health goal, not enough is known about experiences of hepatitis C, its treatment and health experiences post-treatment, in this new age in which hepatitis C elimination seems possible. Funded by the Australian Research Council (2020-2021) this qualitative project will conduct in-depth interviews with individuals affected by hepatitis C to better understand the issues surrounding hepatitis C treatment uptake in this era dedicated to elimination.
The project will use the research insights to produce a ground-breaking website aimed at informing the public, helping affected individuals find out about, and make decisions about, treatment. Using the successful research methods that produced Livesofsubstance.org and Overdoselifesavers.org, the website will speak directly to potential treatment users and their friends and families, while also informing health workers and other relevant professionals about the new treatments and the issues surrounding them. As such, it will also tackle the stigma associated with injecting drug consumption and hepatitis C.
The project team comprises:
- Professor Suzanne Fraser, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
- Professor Carla Treloar, Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales
- Professor David Moore, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
- Dr Michael Edwards, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales
- Elizabeth Birbilis, Department of Health and Human Services