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