Hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in NSW prisons is 20-30 times higher than in the community. In 2016, the availability of new medications created an innovative opportunity for Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network (JH&FMHN) to potentially cure all patients with HCV in one of its prisons – the Compulsory Drug Treatment Program (CDTP).
Following treatment patients reported improved wellbeing and the longer term benefits include significantly decreasing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and death. Concurrent treatment was viewed as an important measure to reducing re-infection in conjunction with harm minimisation education. A partnership between JH&FMHN, Corrective Services NSW and Hepatitis NSW facilitated this process. Broad screening, concurrent treatment and ongoing reviews of new admissions in the CDTP are considered an innovative and novel approach for HCV elimination in a prison.