BEENLEIGH’S Pharmaceutical Rehabilitation Services is again at the forefront of caring for people impacted by drug addiction.
The pharmacy has been awarded $60,000 to lead a project, titled “C-Ya!” to eliminate hepatitis C (HCV) among people who inject drugs.
Money is from the Gilead Fellowship Research Grants Program and seeks to increase HCV treatment uptake among people by establishing working relationships with 40 community pharmacies registered to provide Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST).
The program would provide education about HCV and the importance of treatment to enable staff to start a conversation and link drug users to the necessary care.
Brisbane South Primary Health Network is a hotspot for the disease with the fifth highest prevalence of HCV in Australia, but the third lowest uptake of treatment.
Advances in treatments mean Hepatitis C can now be cured in 95% of cases, with no painful side effects.
The C-Ya! project has been running since February 2020, providing providing treatment to people returning to society after a having been in prison.
The grant allows the operation to expand beyond this high-risk population into the wider community.
Pharmaceutical Rehabilitation Services director Andrew Pfeffer said funding would bring Australia one step closer to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target to eliminate HCV by 2030.
“We intend to take treatment to the marginalised HCV patient population by providing education support to a network of 40 local pharmacies, pharmacists and their assistants and arming them with HCV disease awareness materials and telehealth options,” Mr Pfeffer said.
“One of Australia’s key HCV treatment successes has been improving access to treatment by moving treatment from specialist physicians to General Practitioners and nurse practitioners.
“We believe this approach will increase the number of people treated for HCV and prevent new HCV infections.”
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease that is a leading cause of liver cancer. If left untreated, the disease is fatal. The virus is most commonly transmitted through shared injecting equipment.
“The ultimate aim is to identify people at risk and provide them with treatment, to completely eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030,” Mr Pfeffer said.
“We’d love to see viral hepatitis join the ranks of other eradicated diseases such as Smallpox and Polio.”
If anyone has ever used or shared a needle, they should get tested for HCV. Patients can contact the C-Ya! Project to be directed to their nearest participating pharmacy.
Phone 3059 1301.