The National Prisons Hepatitis Education Program (HepPEd Program): An Evidence-Based Hepatitis C Education Program to Enhance Public Health Literacy in the Australian Prison Sector

Author: Yumi Sheehan Marianne Byrne Olivia Dawson Sami Stewart Bianca Leber Nikitah Habraken Nicodemus Tedla Lise Lafferty Andrew Lloyd Andrew

Theme: Models of Care Year: 2022

Background: Prisons are key to Australia’s hepatitis C (HCV) elimination efforts. Despite considerable
scale-up efforts, testing and treatment uptake amongst people in prison remains sub-optimal. Gaps in
HCV health literacy (knowledge; attitudes; competencies) amongst all key populations in the sector
(healthcare providers; correctional officers; people in prison) have been identified as major barriers
to enhanced uptake, notably: lack of awareness of the simple, curative treatment; stigma; and
competing service priorities. Comprehensive HCV education programs tailored to key populations in
the sector are likely to overcome these barriers.. The National Prisons Hepatitis Education Program
(HepPEd Program) was developed to provide prison-focused sector-wide education to enhance HCV
public health literacy, and thereby increase testing and treatment uptake in Australian prisons.
Description: Co-developed with National Steering Committees, the HepPEd Program for healthcare
providers, correctional officers, and people in prison includes a suite of innovative and multi-modal
educational resources targeting HCV health literacy aspects and addressing key barriers. The Program
will be delivered opportunistically, such as in informal discussion sessions in tea rooms for staff led by
nurse-educators, or wings/yards led by peer educators.. With an overarching by-line of: ‘Let’s talk
about hep C’, key messages for each target audience group have been developed: ‘Prevent, participate
– eliminate (PPE)’ (healthcare providers); ‘Stop the spread – reduce the risk’ (correctional officers);
‘Test, treat, cure, prevent – it’s simple’ (people in prisoner).
Effectiveness: The HepPEd Program will be initially implemented within a stepped wedge randomised
controlled trial evaluating the impact on HCV testing and treatment uptake, as well as HCV knowledge,
attitudes, and competencies.
Conclusions: The HepPEd Program will likely enhance HCV public health literacy and thereby increase
testing and treatment uptake in the prisons. Following evaluation, the Program will be made available
nationally, and adapted for international use.
Disclosure of Interest Statement: HepPEd is supported by funding to the Kirby Institute and ASHM
from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Eliminate C Australia, Gilead
Sciences, and AbbVie.

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