Hepatitis C infection is common in prisoners. In response to the public health impact of viral hepatitis and alongside the development of new highly effective hepatitis C virus medicines, a state-wide prison based program for the assessment, treatment and management of prisoners with chronic viral hepatitis commenced in July 2015.
This program has implemented an innovative model of care and is now delivering best practice clinical assessment, treatment and management of prisoners with chronic viral hepatitis.
All prisoners are offered screening for viral hepatitis upon entry to prison.
This screening is also offered every time a prisoner moves from one prison location to another.
Any prisoners who are sero-positive are offered referral to the program.
All prisoners referred to the service have a clinical assessment, including measurement of liver stiffnes and is supervised by two part-time hepatologists.
The program is integrated into the local prison primary healthcare team with close collaboration with prison primary care nurses, primary care physicians, addiction medicine clinicians, psychiatrist services and St Vincent’s pharmacy to deliver an integrated approach to care.
The hepatologists hold a weekly clinic for face-to-face consultations for prisoners with more complex liver health care needs.
This clinic takes place at St Vincent’s Correctional Health Outpatient Department at Port Phillip Prison.
The telemedicine sessions are triaged and coordinated by the Clinical Nurse Consultant Nurses and they are successfully engaging prisoners with specialised care, eliminating the need for multiple prisoner transfers to St Vincent’s Outpatients Department.