Whilst the overall rate of hepatitis B in Australia is low compared to other countries globally, hepatitis B prevalence is much higher in certain populations. These include migrants from countries with endemic hepatitis B, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. At-risk communities also face other challenges in accessing health care due to cultural, social and language barriers.

Hepatitis B is committed to increasing awareness and prevention of hepatitis and liver disease in Australia. We are collaborating with local cultural communities including Korean and Burmese communities to provide education and rapid finger-prick screening tests. By raising awareness about hepatitis B and the importance of testing amongst these communities, we hope that no one misses out on finding out important information about their health. Appropriate treatment for hepatitis B for those who need it can prevent the disease from having much worse outcomes such as liver cancer.

Events and partnerships

Many of our local events in 2015 focused on outreach to ethnic communities with a higher prevalence of hepatitis B. Collaborating with the Korean Australian Medical Society (KAMS), we held educational and testing events at the Strathfield Russian Club in May and June and Phillips Park, Lidcombe in May. In June, we provided hepatitis B testing and education at a Burmese community food festival held at the Villawood Senior Citizen’s Centre. In addition, we held a stall at a Women’s Wellness Day at Balmain Community Centre.

In 2016, we held several events in accordance with our intention to expand our local activities reaching at-risk communities. These included a HBV testing stall at the Community Wellness Expo at the Lebanese Muslim Association Hall in Lakemba, a stall at the Korean Festival in Eastwood Park, a stall at the Korean Health Forum in Ashfield Town Hall in Ashfield, a stall at the community liver cancer exhibition organised by CanRevive in conjunction with the Chinese Medical Association in Canley Vale, and a stall at a Korean community testing day at Epping Community Centre.

Moving forwards, we hope to continue this positive engagement with various communities. Strong local partnerships have also benefited our progress with international projects: partnering with the Burmese community and the Burmese Medical Association locally has strengthened the project in Myanmar commenced in 2015. Another significant local partner is the Lions Club, with whom we have delivered several educational presentations to clubs in Maroubra, Mortdale, Cherrybrook and Ryde.

Our awareness program is continuing to grow, with plans to reach more communities and spread the word about screening and early diagnosis. If you would like to join the growing list of organisations keen to collaborate with us, please get in touch.