9 August 2019
Austin Health has opened a new Blood Borne Virus screening clinic specifically designed for patients dealing with substance abuse or mental illness.
Austin Health's Hepatitis C Clinic Nurse Consultant, Susan Campfield, said the clinic will be located in Hawdon Street in Heidelberg and provide testing for blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
"Data shows us that people with a psychiatric or mental illness are 20 times more likely to have Hep C," Susan said.
"The service is the first of its kind for Austin Health and it's a really important step that will help us to better deal with the stigma that can be associated with substance abuse or mental illness.
"We know we have patients who may be using IV needles and other patients who have bouts of psychosis so don't remember certain events. Often these patients don't attend appointments or have access to medication because they can feel judged.
"This can be a major problem because these same patients can also be more susceptible to contracting a blood borne virus.
"We want to create a safe and comfortable environment for some of our most vulnerable patients can come to discuss their health and be tested for what can be life-threatening diseases," she said.
Ms Campfield said there are thousands of people in Australia who may have been screened for Hepatitis C but have never been given treatment
"The clinic will be open specifically for patients with substance abuse or mental illness on Thursday afternoons," she said.
"By having this service tailored to help meet the needs of these particular patients we can better understand their health and then direct them to receive appropriate care."
"We want to give everyone access to these services and get them the treatment they need," Susan said.
The new Blood Borne Virus Screening Clinic will provide patients with a range of services including a comprehensive assessment, blood testing and fibroscan screening for liver stiffness, scarring and cirrhosis.
The clinic is open on Thursday afternoons at 77 Hawdon St Referrals and referrals are not required.
Please call 0481 909 741 to discuss and arrange an appointment.