Hepatitis B – An update


Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver and a major international public health concern. It has the potential to cause life threatening, acute and chronic liver disease. Those at risk include people living in endemic areas, individuals participating in high-risk activities, and healthcare workers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are four times more likely to contract hepatitis B than other Australians.

This module begins with an overview of the incidence and prevalence of hepatitis B. It goes on to discuss transmission and those at most risk of contracting the infection. An update is provided of the types of hepatitis and the diagnosis. The module then discusses treatment and prevention strategies.

This module is aimed at Aboriginal health practitioners, Aboriginal health workers, registered nurses, midwives, doctors and other clinicians. Given the prevalence of hepatitis B within the Aboriginal community it is likely that all those involved in nursing care will come into contact with people with hepatitis B. The prevention strategies are effective when applied and will become increasingly effective with the commitment to national and international strategies.

Aboriginal health services and those working in them can play a significant part in reversing the current trends of increasing infection rates of hepatitis B amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the prevalence of hepatitis B globally and in Australia and those at most risk of infection.
  • Understand how hepatitis B is transmitted.
  • Describe broadly the pathophysiology of hepatitis B.
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B.
  • RDescribe the treatments available for those with hepatitis B.
  • Describe the prevention strategy for hepatitis B in Australia.

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