Harm Reduction Victoria
“I am a Hep Hero because I want to ensure that people who are at risk of contracting viral hepatitis and people who are living with viral hepatitis are all treated with the respect they deserve.”
I am the Executive Officer of Harm Reduction Victoria, an organisation for people who use drugs. Our aim is to improve the way people who take drugs are treated by medical, community and government services, as well as increase awareness about issues relating to illicit drug use in the general community.
I have been involved with Hepatitis Victoria through their training programs for medical practitioners as well as a member of the Board.
I have twenty years of experience working with people who inject drugs through peer-based research and education initiatives. I have worked in the Epidemiology and Social Research Unit and the Centre for Harm Reduction at the Burnet Institute.
I am currently the Executive Officer at Harm Reduction Victoria - formerly VIVAIDS - the Drug User Organisation for Victoria.
I believe one of the reasons why there is stigma around viral hepatitis, particularly hepatitis C, is in its association with people who inject drugs.
It can be easy to dismiss the importance of addressing stigma and discrimination around a health issue when it is so associated with such a heavily stigmatised behaviour and group of people. However, our commitment is to the importance of health as a basic human right for all people, regardless of who you are or what you do.
Stigma and discrimination is a huge problem in exercising our basic human right to health. Stigma silences people living with viral hepatitis from being honest and truthful, and it maintains a culture of misinformation and fear mongering which is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.