Hepatitis B testing with the Iraqi community

Sunday 23rd April, 2017

Marconi Club, Bossley Park

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On the evening of Sunday the 23rd of April 2017, volunteers from Hepatitis B Free were invited to attend and provide point of care (POC) testing for hepatitis B virus at an Iraqi community health event. The gathering was in a high-ceiling exhibition hall at the Marconi Club, and tables were filled right to the back. Most of the attendees were senior adults, and many came accompanied with their partners and family members. There was a strong sense of family and community presence that was tangible during the evening. The night opened with traditional musical performances, and presentations were given in Arabic about various health conditions such as cancer and the importance of screening and check-ups. Hepatitis NSW and other health organisations had stalls alongside the testing stall we ran as Hepatitis B Free stall. Educational resources were available in English and Arabic language.

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In NSW, around 30 000 people (0.42%) identify their birthplace as Iraq. Arabic is one of the main languages spoken. We provided consent forms in both English and Arabic, and one of our volunteers, a gastroenterologist from Iraq, helped to explain the questions and communicate in Arabic with the attendees at the stall. This was a reminder of the value of language skills in providing health services, as language and communication barriers can be a barrier in access to services and health information.

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The test is a simple finger prick, similar to the one used for diabetes blood glucose monitoring. Around 30 people were tested for hepatitis B virus during this event. It was a pleasure to attend and meet with members of the Iraqi community, and we look forward to working together on future activities.

Report by Carrie Lee

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