One clear message weaved throughout the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis is the need for work within Indigenous communities (worldwide) to come from or through members of those communities. And, as one speaker pointed out, it is – in order to make a culturally appropriate impact – just common sense.
A very promising example of this in practice was presented during the proffered paper session on Hepatitis C – Leadership, Support & Education, on Tuesday, 16 September 2014. Damien House, Hepatitis Peer Educator/Aboriginal HEO at the Sydney Local Health District (LHD), in NSW, Australia, presented his work on “Aboriginal hepatitis C Peer Education in Inner West Sydney”.
Within 2 years working at Sydney LHD, House has developed a highly successful model of care to work with people on an individual basis, to engage them with testing and treatment services. Using House’s model of care, patients within his care have, to date, achieved a 100% rate of sustained virological response to antiviral therapy.
Damien is openly a person who lived with hepatitis C. Damien was fortunate enough to beat hepatitis C with antiviral therapy. It is undoubtedly due to Damien’s personal experience, and his capacity to connect to members of his community, that enables him to help people through their treatment journey. Damien's key message to patients is that hepatitis C is a curable disease, and you shouldn't just live with a curable disease, you should treat it.
Damien’s inspirational story has been made into a DVD and may be ordered (subject to availability) via Damien at the Sydney LHD http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/