Supporting people through diagnosis with chronic hepatitis B

  • Australian research suggests that little or no pre or post test counselling occurs at the time people are diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B. People who have recently been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B may be feeling confused, worried, shocked or afraid.
  • As it is likely that newly diagnosed people will have many unanswered questions about hepatitis B, it is to provide information about hepatitis B in an appropriate format. Avoid giving too much information at once, and encourage people to meet with you a few times to go over their questions and concerns about their diagnosis. It could be useful if you are not confident about your hepatitis B knowledge to frame the discussion in terms of both of you learning more about hepatitis B.
  • If you are working with a someone recently diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, encourage them to think about if, when and how they might disclose their new diagnosis to others. Family and friends may be a great source of care and support, but unexpected reactions can and do happen. Generally speaking, hepatitis B is not very well understood in the community, so print resources might be useful to help the person manage any questions that may arise.
  • Unfortunately printed resources about hepatitis B are not available in all languages and for all literacy levels, so face to face conversations are ideal in many instances. If you have printed resources, they can be useful as a prop for having a more in-depth discussion about hepatitis B and the realities of living with hepatitis B.
  • People with chronic hepatitis B should regularly see hepatitis specialist such as a gastroenterologist or infectious disease physician at a local hospital. People will need to be referred to these specialists by a general practitioner (GP). Not all GPs are aware of this, so check with your patient/client whether they have had such a referral.
  • GPs with a good understanding of hepatitis B are another useful resource, although many GPs are not aware of the implications of hepatitis B infection or of the impact of infection on their patients. Other support services can be found here.