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The HARP Unit recommences HIV and Hep C testing in community settings

The recommencement of HIV and Hep C testing kicked off with a double community outreach event held on 17 March at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and Common Ground (social housing run by Mission Australia). These events coincided with the ‘Hep Cured Mobile Mural’, a hepatitis C virus (HCV) health promotion campaign run by Hepatitis NSW which aims to increase awareness of HCV testing and treatment among people who inject drugs.

In collaboration with the RPA Gastroenterology and Liver Service, opportunistic HCV and HIV testing was offered to clients and 27 Dried Blood Spot (DBS) tests were performed. DBS is a free, confidential and accurate finger prick test for HIV and Hepatitis C. This research program is led by the NSW Ministry of Health, St Vincent’s Hospital Network and Sexual Health InfoLink

For more information: DBS test website

The DBS eligibility criteria for Hepatitis C has been expanded recently to include people who have been homeless or attended drug and alcohol, mental health, or community corrections services. These changes relate specifically to phase 2 sites only (settings) not to people testing from home.

In addition to the clinical services provided, clients had the chance to engage with a peer who had first-hand experience of living with HCV and completing treatment and health promotion officers who could provide up-to-date resources about HCV/HIV prevention, screening and treatments. A $20 gift card was offered to clients who got tested.

In 2022, the outreach model will be expanded to other settings in Sydney Local Health District including homelessness services, pharmacies, social housing, and needle syringe program settings.

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