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ID: HR23-119
Presenting author: Louisa Walsh

It’s Your Right – a peer led hepatitis C testing and treatment campaign designed by people who inject drugs, for people who inject drugs

Louisa Walsh, Emily Adamson, Esha Leyden, Jane Dicka, Sal-Amanda Endemann, Carol Holly, Diane Lloyd, Lucy Pepolim, Tammy Townsend, Troy Combo, Alisa Pedrana, Margaret Hellard
Issue: An estimated 117,800 people in Australia live with hepatitis C. Despite the widespread availability of direct acting antiviral therapy in Australia, many barriers remain to hepatitis C testing and treatment, especially for people who inject drugs. Without addressing these barriers, people who inject drugs will miss out on curative treatments, and Australia will not meet World Health Organisation 2030 hepatitis C elimination targets.
Project: It’s Your Right was the first Australia-wide hepatitis C testing and treatment campaign to be co-designed and delivered by peer workers with lived and living experience of injecting drug use. To design It’s Your Right, the Burnet Institute partnered with the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League and co-chaired a national reference group. To overcome COVID-related restrictions, It’s Your Right was developed through an innovative on-line co-design process. The campaign combined positive rights-based slogans and engaging street advertising, with peer outreach and engagement strategies tailored to the needs of local communities. Localised engagement strategies included peer-referrals to trusted services, cash incentives, point-of-care testing, and events.
Outcomes: It’s Your Right was implemented across Australia by nine peer-led services between April and December 2022. The campaign was evaluated through analysing organisational service delivery data, surveys of people who inject drugs (n=120), and interviews (n=20) and focus groups (n=9) with the people who designed and implemented the campaign. During the campaign peer workers had over 1500 conversations about hepatitis C with clients, and more than 700 people were tested for hepatitis C at implementing organisations. The It’s Your Right campaign also provided an opportunity for services to trial new models of care and connect with new organisations in their local area. Challenges included the implementation of new services (e.g. point-of-care testing) on top of usual workloads and supporting clients with hepatitis C to overcome barriers to treatment.