National Hepatitis B Strategy 2010–2013

6.5 Developing health maintenance, care and support for people with hepatitis B

Page last updated: July 2010

An increased understanding of hepatitis B infection and support for those who are infected, at personal and community level, will help reduce the burden associated with acute and chronic hepatitis B infection and improve health outcomes.

People with chronic hepatitis B need knowledge and skills to understand and use information on disease prevention and treatment, to avoid health risks and stay healthy. Health literacy involves understanding the services available within the health system and how to access and navigate them to achieve appropriate care. Given the complexity of chronic hepatitis B, innovative and sustainable methods of developing and providing education and support to people and communities are required.

Barriers to accessing relevant information and services for communities most affected by chronic hepatitis B include lack of English language proficiency, lack of awareness of available information and services, lack of cultural sensitivity and appropriateness of services and information, family and cultural responsibilities and obligations, social isolation, access to transport, and cost.

Priority actions in health maintenance, care and support

  • Develop accurate and appropriate information for people with chronic hepatitis B to inform them about: the impact of infection; its natural history; the availability of health promotion information, including how to reduce their risk of developing liver disease and how to access specialist services; and their legal rights.
  • Ensure organisations working with communities with a greater prevalence of chronic hepatitis B are able to provide services, information and support.
  • Establish forums in which lessons learned by service providers are shared.
  • Use referral mechanisms between general practitioners, specialist clinics and other health and welfare services to help with the clinical and psychosocial needs of patients.
  • Develop chronic disease management strategies that incorporate changes to diet, exercise and alcohol intake.
  • Identify barriers to accessing information on hepatitis B and to the support available in rural and remote areas and custodial settings.