Hepatitis C prevention education needs to be grounded in social relationships
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Copyright © 2014 Informa. Published by Informa UK.
Most hepatitis C transmission occurs through the sharing of equipment used for injecting drugs, and in many settings, the majority of equipment sharing occurs between sexual partners. Despite this, few health promotion materials directly address sexual partnerships, couples or social relationships in general. This blindspot is one example of the ways in which prevention education in the area of drug use would benefit from careful rethinking. Focusing on the case of Australia, we argue that hepatitis C prevention education insufficiently acknowledges or mobilize social relationships, social dynamics and social contexts in its efforts to prevent hepatitis C transmission. This can lead it to reproduce the conditions for the very problems it seeks to solve. We further argue that hepatitis C prevention education is insufficiently attentive to its own social location, drawing too little on stakeholder expertise. Its effectiveness relies upon its social context, including the collaborative input and engagement of affected communities and other stakeholders. Better recognizing this would produce a stronger foundation for developing prevention strategies. As we conclude, this social foundation for hepatitis C prevention could be articulated into national, collaboratively developed guidelines on effective communication in hepatitis C and injecting drug use risk.
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