Eliminating Hepatitis B Transmission in Indigenous Australia

Hepatitis B

How you can help

WE ARE SEEKING $5 MILLION OVER 5 YEARS TO ENSURE THAT:

  • We can continue our ongoing clinical research program aimed at strengthening service delivery to remote communities

  • We are able to improve the understanding of Hep B through the translation of educational resources into four primary languages

  • A Northern Territory-wide registry of Hep B infection status is developed and hosted at Menzies and the Hep B status of all Northern Territory residents will be determined

  • Those who are not infected or immune are able to be vaccinated

  • Those who are infected are able to be monitored and treated with antivirals if necessary

FIVE MILLION DOLLARS WILL ENABLE MENZIES TO ELIMINATE ALL NEW CASES OF HEPATITIS B IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY AND RENDER HEPATITIS B A DISEASE UNKNOWN TO FUTURE GENERATIONS OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN

Download the full fact sheet

The gap

“There will be some challenges. Stopping transmission of Hepatitis B is not as simple as ensuring blanket vaccine coverage or adequate testing. It is our view that by approaching this in an innovative and cohesive way, we will have the best chance we have ever had of eradicating the transmission of this disease and significantly improving the wellbeing of the Indigenous people affected and their communities as a whole.”

Dr Jane Davies, Menzies School of Health Research


Bridging the Gap - Hep B

In Australia, the burden of Hepatitis B (Hep B) disease is disproportionally carried by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with infection rates three times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians. In Northern Australia, the rate of Hep B infection in the Indigenous population is one of the highest in the world. The Hep B virus may not initially produce any symptoms, however, the risk of developing liver cancer is significantly increased upon infection.

Bridging the Gap - Hep B

OVER HALF OF ALL INDIGENOUS LIVER CANCER CASES ARE DUE TO HEP B INFECTION WHICH IS CONTRACTED AT BIRTH OR IN EARLY CHILDHOOD

The virus frequently remains undetected until middle age when it rapidly and often fatally causes diseases of the liver. For Indigenous Australians, liver cancer affects people in the prime of their lives, with death frequently occurring soon after detection.

Bridging the Gap - Hep B

Unlike all other types of cancer where rates are slowly going down, liver cancer is the most rapidly increasing cause of cancer death. In the Indigenous Australian population, rates of liver cancer are 6 times higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Once liver cancer is diagnosed, 95% of Indigenous Australian patients die within five years.

Bridging the Gap - Hep B

Unfortunately, because of the remoteness of many Indigenous communities, a diagnosis with liver cancer also means the end of a life lived with kin and country, as treatments are often only available in urban centres or in some cases, another state. This involves disconnection from family and friendship networks, language challenges, and the often unfamiliar new world of Western medicine.

Bridging the Gap - Hep B

BRIDGING THE GAP – A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT

Menzies seeks partnership support to realise an innovative, multi-pronged program to eliminate Hep B infection transmission in Northern Australia. This work will be done in collaboration with the renowned Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

This collaborative approach will provide highly-targeted health interventions at key points in the lives of individuals infected or at risk of being infected with the disease. It will result in longer, healthier lives for all Indigenous people affected by Hep B infection. It will also lead to a significant reduction in public healthcare costs.

In addition, there are other important outcomes that will flow on from the efforts to eliminate Hep B infection. Healthier adults managing Hep B infection can stay in their communities and thereby continue to act as family leaders, cultural custodians and role models for young people. They will also be able to successfully manage Hep B infection and work at the same time.

Bridging the Gap - Hep B

THE IMPACT

Our vision is bold. We believe that with partnership funding, in the next five years we can eliminate new causes of Hep B infection in the Northern Territory and ensure that all ongoing cases of infection are provided with appropriate levels of care and follow up.

Our approach will be unique in this field; we will work from a cohesive, integrated space, and combine genotyping and laboratory data with in-community education, medical interventions, vaccination reviews and population movement surveys to target and manage all cases of Hep B infection in Northern Australia.

Indigenous researchers will be engaged and funds provided for professional development to build Indigenous workforce capacity. Furthermore, this approach will be able to be replicated in other communities and regions both in Australia and around the world.

Bridging the Gap - Hep B

THIS FIVE-YEAR PROJECT WILL DISRUPT THE CURRENT TRAJECTORY OF POOR HEALTH AND LIFE EXPECTANCY THAT INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS ARE EXPERIENCING IN THE FIELD OF HEP B INFECTION AND WILL MAKE A SIGNIFICANT AND ENDURING CONTRIBUTION TO BRIDGING AND ULTIMATELY CLOSING THE GAP

How you can help

WE ARE SEEKING $5 MILLION OVER 5 YEARS TO ENSURE THAT:

  • We can continue our ongoing clinical research program aimed at strengthening service delivery to remote communities

  • We are able to improve the understanding of Hep B through the translation of educational resources into four primary languages

  • A Northern Territory-wide registry of Hep B infection status is developed and hosted at Menzies and the Hep B status of all Northern Territory residents will be determined

  • Those who are not infected or immune are able to be vaccinated

  • Those who are infected are able to be monitored and treated with antivirals if necessary

FIVE MILLION DOLLARS WILL ENABLE MENZIES TO ELIMINATE ALL NEW CASES OF HEPATITIS B IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY AND RENDER HEPATITIS B A DISEASE UNKNOWN TO FUTURE GENERATIONS OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN

Download the full fact sheet