The Australian Hepatitis and risk survey in prisons (AusHep) in an NPHN initiative being led by the Kirby Institute UNSW Sydney and will replace the well-established triennial National Prison Entrants’ Bloodborne Virus Survey (NPEBBVS) as the key national collaboration in the prisons area relating to surveillance of infectious diseases. The goal of AusHep is to conduct an annual bio-behavioural survey to assess the prevalence and care cascade of HCV, HBV, and HIV in the Australian prison sector at jurisdiction levels, using an entirely point-of-care (PoC) testing strategy.
The survey will be conducted in 25 representative prisons across the country, with prisoners participating in a short interview and providing saliva and capillary blood samples for testing via PoC methods (saliva and fingerstick, respectively) for HCV Ab, HCV RNA (if HCV Ab positive), HBsAg, HBs Ab, and HIV Ab. The survey will provide point-estimates of HCV, HBV, and HIV prevalence as well as participation in each step of the care cascades and risk behaviours.
The survey will provide a much-needed mechanism for more effective monitoring of the huge national and state-based investments in the push to eliminate HCV and HBV as public health threats. In particular, the focus on the prison setting will fill a major gap in national surveillance efforts. This is important as the prison sector provides both a key opportunity to connect with hard-to-access populations, and a venue for ongoing transmissions, which may undermine community-focussed elimination efforts. High quality data are needed to understand these efforts, which this survey will provide. Data from the survey will inform national aspirations to determine whether Australia is on track to achieve WHO HCV and HBV elimination targets.
Yumi Sheehan (NPHN coordinator): NPHN.firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9385 0375