Around 170,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), and approximately 226,000 Australians are living with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) can lead to cirrhosis, liver damage or liver cancer.

In the Northern Territory (NT) between 3 and 11 per cent of Aboriginal people live with CHB and approximately 1.9 per cent live with CHC. Hepatitis B has a vaccine and hepatitis C has a cure, which means the virtual elimination of viral hepatitis is possible.

Our research focus:
  • To measure the disease burden caused by HBV infection in the NT
  • To use novel approaches to make testing for HBV and liver cancer easier
  • To understand the impact of a novel HBV genotype on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Northern Australia to improve vaccination and disease management strategies
  • To use a partnership approach to sustainably eliminate hepatitis B from the Aboriginal population in the NT
  • Using nurse-led, peer-based models of care to diagnose and treat hepatitis C in the community
Our research impact:
  • Discovered a new genotype of HBV – HBV/C4. This genotype is unique to Aboriginal Australians in the NT Indigenous people and its surface protein is different from other HBVs. As a result we will conduct studies to determine whether the vaccine given to Aboriginal infants is as effective as first thought.
  • Found high rates of liver cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which are mainly due to HBV infection. It is possible that the HBV/C4 genotype is more aggressive than other strains.
  • In partnership with remote communities, we have developed a culturally appropriate HBV educational resource and translated this into 11 Aboriginal languages, covering the first language of at least 70% of the Aboriginal NT population • Identified the hepatitis B sero-status of over 80% of Aboriginal clients in Top End and Central Australia Health Services
Key staff:
Collaborators:
  • Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory
  • Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
  • Katherine West Health Board
  • Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
  • NT Department of Health
  • The Australasian Society for Sexual Health, HIV and Viral Hepatitis Medicine
  • The NT Aids and Hepatitis Council
  • The Burnet Institute
  1. Hosking, K., Stewart, G., Mobsby, M., Skov, S., Zhao, Y., Su, J-Y. et al. (2020). Data linkage and computerised algorithmic coding to enhance individual clinical care for Aboriginal people living with chronic hepatitis B in the Northern Territory of Australia – Is it feasible? PLoS ONE 15(4): e0232207.
  2. Hla, T., Bukulatjpi, S., Binks, P., Gurruwiwi, G., Dhurrkay, R. & Davies, J. (2020). A “one stop liver shop” approach improves the cascade-of-care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians living with chronic hepatitis B in the Northern Territory of Australia: results of a novel care delivery model. International Journal Equity in Health 19:64.
  3. Qama, A., Allard, N., Cowie, B., Davis, J. & Davies, J. (2020). Hepatitis B in the Northern Territory: insights into the changing epidemiology of an ancient condition. Internal Medicine Journal, 51:910-922.
  4. Sullivan, R., Davies, J., Binks, P., Dhurrkay, R., Gurruwiwi, G., Bukulatjpi, S., McKinnon, M., Hosking, K., Littlejohn, M., Jackson, K., Locarnini, S., Davis, J. & Tong, S. (2019). Point of care and oral fluid hepatitis B testing in remote Indigenous communities of Northern Australia. Journal of Viral Hepatitis 27:407-414.
  5. Davies, J., Bukulatjpi, S., Sharma, S., Caldwell L., Johnston, V., & Davis, J.S. (2015). Towards shared understandings – the development of a culturally appropriate bilingual electronic application about Hepatitis B for Indigenous Australians. Journal of Medical Internet Research - Research Protocols, in press, accepted 17/04/2015.
  6. Davies, J., Bukulatjpi, S., Sharma, S., Davis, J. & Johnston, V. (2014). “Only your blood can tell the story” – a qualitative research study using semi-structured interviews to explore the hepatitis B related knowledge, perceptions and experiences of remote dwelling Indigenous Australians and their health care providers in northern Australia. BMC Public Health 14:1233.
  7. Parker, C., Tong, S., Dempsey, K., Condon, J., Sharma, S., Chen, J., Sievert, W. & Davis, J. (2014). Hepatocellular carcinoma in Australia’s Northern Territory: high incidence and poor outcome Medical Journal of Australia 201:470-474.
  8. Littlejohn, M., Davies, J., Yuen, L., Tong, S., Davis, J.S., & Locarnini, S. (2014). Molecular virology of Hepatitis B virus, subgenotype C4 in Northern Australian Indigenous populations. Journal of Medical Virology, 86(4), 695-706.
  9. Parker, C., Tong, S.Y.C., Dempsey, K., Condon, J., Sharma, S., Chen, J.W.C., Sievert, W., & Davis, J.S. (2014). Hepatocellular carcinoma in Australia's Northern Territory - high incidence and poor outcomes. Medical Journal of Australia, 201(8), 470-474.
  10. Davies, J., Littlejohn, M., Locarnini, S. A., Whiting, S., Hajkowicz, K., Cowie, B. C., et al. (2013). The molecular epidemiology of hepatitis B in the Indigenous people of northern Australia. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 28(7), 1234-1241.
  11. Davies J, Tong SY, Davis JS. (2013). Hepatitis D is rare or non-existent in hepatitis B virus-infected Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 37(2), 188-9.
  12. Carroll, E., Page, W., & Davis, J. S. (2010). Screening for hepatitis B in East Arnhem Land: A high prevalence of chronic infection despite incomplete screening. Internal Medicine Journal, 40(11), 784-787. Click here to view more hepatitis b publications in PubMed.
Click here to view more hepatitis b publications in PubMed.
  1. NT News | High rates of hepatitis B among NT Indigenous people

    NT News | High rates of hepatitis B among NT Indigenous people

    Date

    The prevalence of chronic hepatitis B in the Northern Territory has been vastly underestimated with Indigenous residents nearly five times more likely to have the disease, according to new research.

  2. Hep B Past Bulletin | Volume 1, Issue 1

    Hep B Past Bulletin | Volume 1, Issue 1

    Date

  3. $5.6m on health research

    $5.6m on health research

    Date

    Health Minister Greg Hunt Says Federal Government will invest $5.6 million in the NT for medical research.

  4. NT News | Funds for critical health issue studies

    NT News | Funds for critical health issue studies

    Date

    Report on Menzies NHMRC and MRFF Investigator grants.

  5. Five medical research projects recognised in the Northern Territory

    Five medical research projects recognised in the Northern Territory

    Date

    Five researchers based at Menzies have received recognition in the form of Investigator Grants from the NHMRC and the MRFF.

  6. $400 million funding boost for health and medical research

    Date

    Including Menzies School of Health Research work towards the elimination of chronic hepatitis B in the Northern Territory.

  7. Innovative data use an important step in eliminating hep B

    Innovative data use an important step in eliminating hep B

    Date

    A team of researchers in the Northern Territory (NT) have designed and tested a new algorithm to determine hepatitis B status.

  8. Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre supports new phone App

    Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre supports new phone App

    Date

    Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin are making a new phone app about Hepatitis B in Kunwinjku language with help from the Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre.

  9. CAAMA Podcast | Strong Voices Monday 25/09/2019

    CAAMA Podcast | Strong Voices Monday 25/09/2019

    Date

    Australian researchers have used current Hepatitis B virus genome sequences to map the movement of Aboriginal people into Australia. A senior research fellow at the Menzies school of health research discusses the research paper.

  10. Hepatitis B DNA Helps Trace History and Movement of First Australians

    Hepatitis B DNA Helps Trace History and Movement of First Australians

    Date

    The team found that hepatitis B virus isolated from these Aboriginal Australians is a unique strain called HBV/C4, which is not found anywhere else in the world.

  11. Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements

    Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements

    Date

    LongRoom News | Australian researchers have used current hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome sequences to deduce ancient human population movements into Australia.

  12. Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements

    Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements

    Date

    LongRoom News | Australian researchers have used current hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome sequences to deduce ancient human population movements into Australia.

  13. Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements into Australia

    Hepatitis B virus sheds light on ancient human population movements into Australia

    Date

    Australian researchers have used current hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome sequences to deduce ancient human population movements into Australia, adding weight to the theory that the mainland Aboriginal population separated from other early humans at least 59 thousand years ago and possibly entered the country near the Tiwi Islands.

  14. NT News | Hope to eradicate chronic Hep B

    NT News | Hope to eradicate chronic Hep B

    Date

    NT News | Hope to eradicate chronic Hep B

  15. Chronic hepatitis B elimination partnership launched

    Chronic hepatitis B elimination partnership launched

    Date

    A collaboration working to eliminate chronic hepatitis B (CHB) from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Northern Territory (NT) is being launched by NT Health Minister the Hon Natasha Fyles.

  16. Making hepatitis B information more widely available to Indigenous communities

    Making hepatitis B information more widely available to Indigenous communities

    Date

    Menzies is doing its part to ensure more Indigenous Territorians have access to potentially life-saving information about hepatitis B this World Hepatitis Day.

  17. Katherine Times | Making hepatitis B information more widely available to Indigenous communities

    Katherine Times | Making hepatitis B information more widely available to Indigenous communities

    Date

    Katherine Times | Making hepatitis B information more widely available to Indigenous communities

  18. Researchers go north to Alaska

    Researchers go north to Alaska

    Date

    A team of community-based researchers from Elcho Island made the long journey to Anchorage, Alaska to present their work at the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis in August. For the three Indigenous researchers - Sarah...

  19. Chronic hepatitis B to be eliminated from NT | Katherine Times

    Chronic hepatitis B to be eliminated from NT | Katherine Times

    Date

    An important collaboration which will work to eliminate chronic hepatitis B from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the NT has been established.

  20. Chronic hepatitis B to be eliminated from the Northern Territory

    Chronic hepatitis B to be eliminated from the Northern Territory

    Date

    An important collaboration which will work to eliminate chronic hepatitis B (CHB) from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the Northern Territory (NT) has been established.

  21. Scullion hails Indigenous health funding

    Scullion hails Indigenous health funding

    Date

    NT Senator Nigel Scullion - "funding continues the Coalition Government's strong commitment to supporting the best health and medical research."

  22. Indigenous Funding Boost | NT News

    Indigenous Funding Boost | NT News

    Date

    Menzies will use NHMRC funding to boost health outcomes of Indigenous Australians through two projects.

  23. CRANAplus magazine | Alaska trip highlights global problem

    CRANAplus magazine | Alaska trip highlights global problem

    Date

    It took a trip halfway around the world for Galiwin'ku researchers to be reminded that all Indigenous peoples face challenges of viral hepatitis.

  24. Researchers at World Conference

    Date

    Community-based researchers Sarah Bukulatjpi, George Gurruwiwi and Roslyn Dhurrkay, from Galiwin'ku in the Northern Territory, recently spoke on viral hepatitis at the World Indigenous Peoples' Conference in Anchorage.

  25. CRANAplus magazine | From Elcho to Alaska

    CRANAplus magazine | From Elcho to Alaska

    Date

    A team of community-based researchers from Elcho Island, made the long journey to Anchorage to present at a conference.

  26. ABC online | Elcho Island researchers bound for Alaska

    ABC online | Elcho Island researchers bound for Alaska

    Date

    Three community-based researchers from Elcho Island working with Menzies School of Health Research are bound for Alaska to present at an international viral hepatitis conference.

  27. Elcho Island community researchers Alaska-bound

    Elcho Island community researchers Alaska-bound

    Date

    Three community-based researchers from Elcho Island working with Menzies School of Health Research are bound for Alaska to present at an international Indigenous viral hepatitis conference.

  28. Severe hep B strain afflicts indigenous population

    Severe hep B strain afflicts indigenous population

    Date

    INDIGENOUS Territorians with hepatitis B suffer from an aggressive strain of the virus not found anywhere else in the world, researchers from Menzies School of Health Research have found.

  29. Research reveals alarmingly high rates of the world’s second most deadly cancer in the NT

    Research reveals alarmingly high rates of the world’s second most deadly cancer in the NT

    Date

    A new study conducted by Menzies has found a very high prevalence of liver cancer in the NT.

  30. New app to improve treatment of Hepatitis B in remote Indigenous communities

    New app to improve treatment of Hepatitis B in remote Indigenous communities

    Date

    The launch of a new iPad app is hoping to address the prevalence and severity of Hepatitis B infections in remote Indigenous communities.