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“Raise awareness of blood”
Blood awareness means understanding the potential for blood to contain blood borne pathogens as well as understanding how these can, and cannot, be transmitted. The promotion of blood awareness is a key strategy for preventing the spread of blood borne viruses and promoting essential hygiene measures where blood may be present.
It is an attitude and an essential component of all programs, procedures and practices designed to prevent transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses.
Blood Awareness is especially important for people who have direct contact with blood, such as medical personnel and injecting drug users, but at the same time to avoid new infections relevant information should be made available to the whole population.
|Guiding principles for blood awareness interventions:
Key components of effective blood awareness interventions:
- Blood awareness must be recognized as an important and indivisible part of infectious disease prevention at all levels.
- The awareness message should be developed for different groups, considering the specific needs of each, the risks they face, appropriate language and effective means of communication.
- Awareness messages need to be prepared collaboratively, involving specialists in different areas (for example medical personnel, members of the target group, NGOs, government).
- The promotion of blood awareness must be approached in a way that promotes inclusion and does not perpetuate stigma towards people who use drugs or those with hepatitis C.
- Careful consideration of how messages are delivered as well as who they are delivered by is essential. Peer-led or community interventions, for example, may be more effective in some contexts while information from experts may work better for other target groups or messages.
- Empowerment of the target group: Blood awareness messages must empower the target groups to adopt healthier lifestyles and promote safety across society. The target group must be clearly identified. Messages should be prepared specifically for each group, with their involvement.
- Needs assessment: Research and needs assessments should inform the development of all messages and interventions.
- Evaluation: Ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities are vital to determine the effectiveness of campaigns. Where possible, identifying changes in rates of diagnosis, testing, treatment and care, as well as the adoption of healthier lifestyles, will provide important insights for improvement and replication.
England: Assessing and addressing blood borne viruses
‘Be Blood Aware’ is a face-to-face awareness tool developed by UK NGOs Addaction and Mainliners. It aims to raise awareness of blood borne viruses among the general population.
The tool assesses participants’ existing knowledge of BBVs and ‘fills in the gaps’, with an emphasis on specific risks that the participant is more likely to be exposed to. It is therefore very flexible and can be adapted to, for example, a prison health event or a university fair and delivered by drug or health specialists or as a peer-to-peer intervention. The focus is on educating people so that they can change their behavior, empowering them to manage their own risks in future and improving general knowledge and understanding of BBVs.
Australia: Online support for young people
‘Get The Facts’ is a website developed by the Western Australia Department of Health. It provides information and support on a range of issues that affect young people in the state.
The website includes educational materials developed specifically for young people, using a range of creative approaches to disseminate information on sexual health, blood borne viruses and relationships as well as topics such as drugs and alcohol. As a part of the education program a dedicated video about BBVs has been created which provides simple, clear messages on how these can, and cannot, be transmitted and how risks can be avoided.
Addaction. “Be Blood Aware.” Accessed 11th June 2011.
Government of Western Australia, Department of Health. “Get The Facts: Blood-Borne Viruses.” Accessed 11th June 2011.
Government of Western Australia, Department of Health. “Working together: WA Health Strategic Intent 2010-2015.” Accessed 1th June 2011.
Springboard Media. “Springboard Media’s Tilley Harris caught up with Mainliners’ Pauline Hennessey at the V music festival.” Accessed 11th June 2011.