In 2018, approximately 230,000 people in Australia were living with chronic hepatitis B, but only an estimated 68 percent were diagnosed, highlighting the needs for increasing hepatitis B testing and diagnosis.
The Australian Government’s 3rd National hepatitis B Strategy set the target of 80 percent of people with chronic hepatitis B to be diagnosed by 2022.
Current hepatitis B testing practice is voluntary testing promoted by symptoms or risk assessment, with mandatory testing in some conditions (such as blood donation). However, there are missed opportunities for hepatitis B testing.
Overseas born migrants are assessed against health requirements at immigration medical examination; if the cost exceeds a threshold, then the likelihood of the visa application being rejected is high. From July 2019, the threshold was increased to AUD$49,000 over a ten-year time span.
This new threshold means that most applicants living with chronic hepatitis B will remain eligible, even if taking hepatitis B treatment. This change posed an opportunity to assess the approach of providing hepatitis B tests to potential new migrants from endemic countries to ensure people are diagnosed as early as possible and ensure timely linkage to care.
This project aims to assess strategies of: 1) a general population testing approach, i.e. offering a test to every individual in an eligible group, usually defined by age or could be anyone presents to a GP; and 2) a hepatitis B testing program for new migrants in Australia.
2019 - 2021