“Good to see it out in the open, not hidden” – Findings from the evaluation of a peer-led national hepatitis C health promotion campaign

Author: Emily Adamson, Louisa Walsh, Esha Leyden, Jane Dicka , Salamanda Endemann, Carol Holly, Peta Gava, Lucy Pepolim , Tammy Townsend, Shannon Christensen, Troy Combo, Margaret Hellard, Alisa Pedrana

Theme: Models of Care Year: 2023

Tailored messaging about curative hepatitis C treatments and reducing barriers to care are both crucial to achieving hepatitis C elimination. It’s Your Right was the first Australia-wide hepatitis C campaign co-designed and delivered by peer workers with living and lived experience of injecting drug use. The campaign was designed in partnership between EC Australia, the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League and a national reference group.

Description of model of care/intervention:
It’s Your Right linked people who inject drugs with peer workers and trusted services, and engaged them in hepatitis C testing and treatment by combining colorful, rights-based messaging in street advertising, with peer-led engagement strategies tailored to local community needs. Engagement strategies included client outreach, cash incentives, point-of-care testing, and events. The campaign was implemented between April and December 2022.

Evaluation included analysing organisational service delivery data, surveys of people who inject drugs (n=165), and interviews (n=18) and focus groups (n=23) with campaign designers and implementers. During the campaign, the implementing partner organisations recorded 2,595 hepatitis C conversations with clients, 1,343 people were tested, and 151 people were referred for treatment. Two-thirds of survey respondents were able to spontaneously recall the campaign. 39.8% of survey respondents spoke to a peer worker, and 32.7% got tested, after seeing the campaign.

Conclusion and next steps:
It’s Your Right provided opportunities for community organisations to engage clients within an empowering health promotion framework. Evaluation findings indicate the campaign succeeded in linking people who inject drugs to peer workers and engaging them in testing. Visibility of the campaign enabled peers to start conversations, and financial incentives paired with making testing accessible through trusted peer-led services, facilitated testing uptake among people who inject drugs. Using the It’s Your Right framework, further funding will be sought to sustain and grow peer-led initiatives.

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