Working with those living with hepatitis B and/or C
Half a million people in Australia have Hepatitis B and/or C. If you work with the public, it is highly likely you have worked with someone who has hepatitis B and/or C, whether you knew it or not.
If someone you are working with tells you that they have hepatitis B and/or C, and you find upon receipt of this information your interpersonal responses to that person change, for example your verbal or non-verbal reactions change, we would recommend you take the Hepatitis Victoria hepready courses. If you are feeling anxious about that person, it might be time to get some training to support you in responding in the best way you can.
Sometimes workers change their normal work practices in response to people who they believe have hepatitis. The aims of this behaviour change can have good intentions behind it, for example, to prevent transmission. While changing work practices might have good intentions behind it, this also implies that something is not quite right, either with the established work practices in your organisation, or that some more information would be helpful for you.
Examples of how work practice can be altered in relation to people suspected or known to have hepatitis include:
- Sharing the fact that someone has hepatitis with other organisations/workers, where this is not relevant to their care, and especially when they have not consented to this information being shared
- Changing practices around infection control procedures, such as using disposable instruments where you would not normally
- Highlighting the fact that someone has hepatitis on their record, in a way that implies added danger or concern
The HEPReady courses are a great way to get to know more about viral hepatitis, and become more informed on the above issues. There is also a lot of information contained in this website that might be of use. If you are interested in the legal aspects of working with someone who has hepatitis, it would be worth looking at the information about discrimination.