Australian Health Review
Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the hepatitis C treatment intentions of Aboriginal people living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Western Australia. Methods: This study used a mixed-methods design. In the cross-sectional survey, 123 Aboriginal people who inject drugs and self-report as living with hepatitis C completed a purpose-designed questionnaire. In the qualitative phase, 10 participants were interviewed about the factors influencing their future intentions to undertake hepatitis C treatment. Results: Analysis of the survey data revealed significant associations between an intention to undertake hepatitis C treatment and support, community attachment, stable housing and stigma. In addition, there was a high overall level of expressed intention to undertake HCV treatment, with 54% of participants responding positively. Analysis of the qualitative data supported quantitative findings, revealing concerns about stigma, lack of social support and unstable housing as factors affecting the intention to undertake hepatitis C treatment. Conclusion: This mixed methods study with Aboriginal people living with self-reported HCV indicates interventions focused on reducing stigma and unstable housing could positively affect hepatitis C treatment intentions. These findings have implications for developing holistic programs to promote and support people on hepatitis C treatment. What is known about the topic? Substantial knowledge gaps need to be resolved if HCV elimination among Aboriginal Australians is to be achieved. Current research has prioritised non-Aboriginal communities. What does this paper add? This study found that stigma and unstable housing require attention if Aboriginal Australians are to obtain the full benefits of direct acting antiviral (DAA) hepatitis C treatment. What are the implications for practitioners? Reducing stigma (in the primary healthcare setting) and providing access to stable housing are vital components of supportive, non-judgemental and culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal people. This study highlights the importance of education for nurses and other primary care providers to increase engagement in the hepatitis cascade of care. To achieve this, scaling-up of HCV treatment engagement, trained Aboriginal community healthcare workers and HCV treatment advocates must mobilise and support Aboriginal people to avoid the negative effects of stigma, build positive and enabling relationships and reinforce positive attitudes towards DAA hepatitis C treatment.
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