Hepatitis C, Prisons, and Treatment Opportunities (HePATO)

Date Commenced:
Project Status
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters

NHMRC project Grant

Currently recruiting
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About the Project

(1)   Qualitative research on the social and cultural aspects of hepatitis C and hepatitis C treatment among prisoners with hepatitis C exploring the structural and cultural barriers to the provision of and access to treatment in prison.

z2185283(2)   Mathematical modelling to estimate the numbers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) who could potentially be treated in the prison setting.


Prisoner populations have rates of HCV 40 times that of the general community with over-representation of disadvantaged groups such as Indigenous people. While most HCV policy documents at national and state-level recognise the importance of the correctional setting for HCV, it is clear that the provision of adequately resourced HCV treatment for this population is lacking. This is evident from two national prison bloodborne virus surveys in 2004 and 2007 in which a total of only three prisoners reported receiving treatment.


1. Identify cultural and systemic barriers to providing CHC treatment for Indigenous and non- Indigenous prisoners during incarceration in Australia.

2. Estimate the potential number of prisoners who could be treated for CHC in prison using a synthesis of existing data; and

3. Evaluate, using Markov modelling, the broader health and economic impact of treating CHC in prison.

Design & Method

Qualitative research (in-depth interviews) will be conducted among prisoners and those delivering health services in Qld, WA and NSW prison settings on barriers to accessing treatment (e.g. treatment knowledge, fears, practical and cultural issues, concerns).

Mathematical models will be developed to estimate the numbers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) who could potentially be treated in the prison setting.




Answering these questions will provide valuable information to health departments, prison authorities, correctional health planners, and prison advocates, giving them an empirical and culturally appropriate basis on which to plan prevention activities and expand treatment opportunities.

In addition, the proposed project will provide benefits to Indigenous people at the system and individual levels. At the system level, the findings will be used to advocate for the development of appropriate hepatitis C treatment services for Aboriginal prisoners, including recommendations relating to the provision of after-care following release from prison. At an individual level, prison represents an opportunity to access health services which are not routinely accessed in the community.


Peer reviewed papers, reports, presentations at conferences and seminars.

Project Members
image - 1338431618 Tony Butler
Professor and Program Head
Ph +61 2 9385 9257
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Research Fellow
Ph 9385 1925
Other Investigators

Dr Susan Carruthers  (National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University)

Dr Wendy Cheng (Dept of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Royal Perth Hospital

Professor Sandra Thompson (Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, University of Western Australia)

Jocelyn Jones (National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University)

Professor Paul Haber (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital)

Professor Michael Levy (ACT Corrections Health)

Project Collaborators: External

National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University)

Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (University of Western Australia)

Royal Perth Hospital

Project Contacts

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