Addressing static health literacy and empowering active and informed health consumers

Stream: Rapid Papers 2
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm

Abstract

It will surprise few that many people who have lived with hepatitis for a number of years have avoided engaging with health services, community organisations and information sources. Marginalisation of people living with hepatitis C, often within the health system, contributes to disempowerment and creates static health literacy. In other words, many people living with hepatitis C have an understanding of the virus and health options which lines up with the time they were diagnosed. For many this translates to only interferon-based treatment, significant side-effects, painful liver biopsies, barriers to accessing treatment, stigma within health settings, and few support options. While it has been historically difficult to reach out to much of this demographic as a result of their marginalisation, the increased visibility of hepatitis C with the developments in new treatments has opened up an unprecedented opportunity to reengage and improve treatment rates. Using a platform that emphasises the changes to the hepatitis health landscape, programs that centre on empowering health consumers who are active, informed and conscious are vital to reengaging people around taking control of their own health. Through Hepatitis NSW’s chronic disease self-management program Living Well, participants gain knowledge, skills, resources, confidence and motivation to better manage their health and be more active in addressing the effects of hepatitis C on their lives. Working against structural marginalisation and improving treatment rates needs to centre on empowering the affected community and fostering an active approach to health.

Author

Kyle Leadbeatter (Presenter), Hepatitis NSW
Kyle Leadbeatter has been working in and studying community development and blood-borne viruses for seven years in both Australia and South Africa. He is currently employed as Project Officer - Education and Community Support at Hepatitis NSW and manages the chronic disease self-management program Living Well. Kyle’s experience in working with specific marginalised communities in South Africa for The AIDS Foundation as well as in Australia for Hepatitis NSW is utilised in improving health-related decision-making among people living with blood-borne viruses.