Joint media release – Hep C Point-of-Care Testing to launch in Canberra

Hepatitis ACT and Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) are pleased to launch
Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) program for hepatitis C in Canberra. The POCT program is being launched by Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith on Thursday, 27 October 2022 at Hepatitis ACT, 36 David
Street, Turner. The official proceedings will run from 9am – 9.30am and will be followed by a morning

The POCT program is funded by the ACT Government’s Healthy Canberra Grants through the Reach,
Teach, Treat, Thrive program and is a collaboration between Hepatitis ACT, CAHMA, Interchange Health
Co-op and the Kirby Institute.

“Hep C prevalence has been declining in Australia since highly effective direct acting antiviral (DAA)
treatments became widely available in 2016. However, many people living with hep C are unaware they
have it, so innovative methods and a concerted effort are necessary to increase testing.”, stated Sarah
Ahmed, Executive Director of Hepatitis ACT.

According to the Kirby Institute, more than 90,000 Australians have been treated with new DAA
treatments, but this is only about half of all the people actually living with the disease in Australia.
There are several barriers that Canberrans face when accessing testing and treatment for accessing
testing and treatment for hep C. POCT eliminates many of these. Conventional hep C testing consists of
several blood tests, with days or weeks of waiting, just to have a diagnosis. For busy people or transient
populations, that poses a challenge. The POCT technology can test for an active case of hep C during one
visit, using only a small drop of blood from a finger prick. That small blood sample is analysed on site with
a result within an hour. If the result is positive, then in most cases, treatment can be started during that
same visit or within a few days.

“ACT could be the first jurisdiction in Australia to eliminate hep C, however increasing testing and
treatment uptake is essential if we are to achieve the World Health Organization goal of eliminating hep
C as a major global public health threat by 2030.”, stated Sarah Ahmed. “These diagnostic tests will be
offered on-site at the Hepatitis ACT office, CAHMA office and other facilities and can lead to the initiation
of treatment.”

Media Contacts: Sarah Ahmed (Hepatitis ACT) 0410 919 621
Chris Gough (CAHMA) 0429 261 683

Written by Anonymous

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