YEP Youth & SHBBV Sector Blog Post – Sarah Grant, WASUA: “teSTIng, teSTIng, ABC”

Hi there, my name is Sarah and I am the Youth Outreach Worker at WASUA.

Western Australian Substance Users Association (WASUA) is a non-for-profit agency promoting the health and wellbeing of people who use substances. Working within the National Drug Strategy of harm minimisation, WASUA is a harm reduction organisation, reducing the harms associated with substance use. This means I work with you, around your chosen substance, and help you find ways to reduce the risks associated with your use.

Our core business is a needle and syringe exchange; however we also have many other evidence based programs to reduce harms to substance users and the broader community including a health clinic. Our main site is the Perth office, 22/7 Aberdeen Street, Perth however we also have a fixed site at 97 Spencer Street, Bunbury. Bunbury also offers a mobile van which services sites including Busselton, Manjimup, Collie, Harvey and Margaret River.

In my role as the youth outreach worker, I focus on reducing the harms around substance use, transmission of blood born virus (BBV) and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). I do this through friendly education and intervention sessions. I regularly visit many youth agencies where people can meet me. My calendar is updated each month on the WASUA website – feel free to look me up and meet me at a place that suits you best http://www.wasua.com.au/index.php/youth.html or give me a call and I can come to you!

Part of my role involves providing clean injecting equipment to young people. Many young people are hesitant to disclose their injecting status due to the stigma and discrimination associated with injecting drug use (IDU). Over 90% of hepatitis C infections occur through sharing injecting equipment; most people are infected during their first 18 months of IDU. I understand it can be hard to talk about IDU, I respond to any enquiries in a non-judgemental and understanding way. I can share information which reduces harms around injecting drug use, not only in relation to BBV’s but also infections, vein care and access to testing.

WASUA has a free and confidential nurse, Leanne, available Tuesdays and Thursdays. Leanne is able to do STI and BBV testing on site. If a person is over the age of 18 and has chronic Hepatitis C (more than 6 months) Leanne can also administer community Hepatitis C treatments (in conjunction with Royal Perth Hospital). The New Hep C treatments involve one tablet once a day for 12 weeks with a cure rate of over 95%. Leanne can also administer Hepatitis A and B vaccines. Leanne is a youth friendly nurse who conducts all testing in a kind, non-judgemental manner. Young people can drop in on these days or WASUA holds youth friendly testing days where harm reduction information is communicated in a fun and friendly environment. The next teSTIng, teSTIng, ABC event will be held at WASUA Perth on Wednesday 14th December between 10am and 3pm.

During the testing day young people aged under 25 will have access to testing, lunch, games and will get to take home a show bag with youth friendly resources. This day is all about reducing the risk of harms associated with substance use and how to avoid and treat BBV’s and STI’s. Henna tattooing, sex and condom games, videos and raps are some of the fun activities conducted on the day. Other agencies that attend this day include the Save a Mate crew from Red Cross, Hepatitis WA, Western Australian AIDS Council and Sexual Health Quarters (SHQ).

If you would like to attend or would like any more information on services WASUA offers please do not hesitate to contact me on 9325 8387 or 0408 352 433 or via email youthoutreach@wasua.com.au I look forward to chatting to you soon!

Take care,

Sarah Grant.

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