National Hepatitis C Testing Policy May 2007

Appendix 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Page last updated: July 2007

Increasing testing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

The NATSISH and BBV Strategy recommends several initiatives to increase hepatitis C testing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Techniques to improve access to testing should include:
  • staff development for workers in primary health care services through dissemination of information and facilitating access to new testing and treatment regimes;
  • improved linkages between service providers, including linkages between ACCHSs and mainstream services, as well as those between primary health care and specialist and tertiary services; and
  • ensuring access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to technological advances and their application in clinical care.
Implement population based screening programs where indicated through:
  • national surveillance data used to inform priority groups to be targeted for screening programs;
  • continual expansion of comprehensive primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ;
  • increased collaboration and partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health services to increase capacity to priority groups; and
  • ensuring community education and consultation is undertaken, and appropriate consent is given by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples prior to conducting population based screening.
Facilitate access to new testing and treatment regimens by:
  • dissemination of information on new testing and treatment regimens to Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, mainstream health services and community based organisations;
  • support for research into the development of sensitive and specific diagnostic tests suitable for use in remote locations; and
  • investigation of the use of new point of care testing technologies in different settings.

Epidemiology and testing research

Both the NATSISH and BBV Strategy and the National Hepatitis C Strategy recommend improvements to the collection, analysis and use of surveillance data, particularly increased use of Indigenous identifiers, for nationally notifiable diseases. The Department of Health and Ageing should work with the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia to improve surveillance data by building on recent analysis and recommendations for improving Indigenous identification in communicable diseases reporting systems. In line with this, State and Territory jurisdictions should review notification forms and procedures, and implement measures to increase use of Indigenous identifiers.