National Hepatitis C Testing Policy May 2007

6. Access to diagnostic testing

Page last updated: July 2007

Key points

  • One of the guiding principles is that testing should be accessible to all who are or have been at risk of infection.
  • There are a range of barriers that may impact on access to hepatitis C testing by people who inject drugs, young people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people in custodial settings and people who live in rural and remote areas.
The principle of equitable access to testing for hepatitis C involves many factors. Equitable access to testing requires services for testing, follow-up and support, prevention, treatment and care, education and workforce development. The National Hepatitis C Strategy 2005-2008 identified various groups that potentially have a higher risk of hepatitis C infection and traditionally do not use hepatitis C related health services. These groups that generally are marginalised from healthcare, benefit from the provision of targeted and tailored services.

The groups for whom access to hepatitis C testing is a priority are:
  • People who inject drugs or who have ever injected drugs
  • People in custody or who have ever been in custody
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with risk factors for hepatitis C infection
  • People born in countries with high HCV prevalence.
Young people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and people living in rural and remote areas are important members of all these diverse groups with particular service needs. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should also have choices in accessing diagnostic testing services and these services should be provided in a culturally sensitive manner. Under the National Hepatitis C Strategy 2005-2008, these priority populations will be accorded special attention to reduce transmission within the groups and improve their care and support.