Elimination of Hepatitis C
Greater Manchester has the ambitious aim to become the first UK city region to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025. The virus, which affects the liver, can sometimes cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage if left untreated. There are estimated to be around 17,450 people in Greater Manchester living with the infection, including around 7,000 who are not diagnosed. Of those diagnosed, only 28% are engaged with specialist services.
The Health Innovation Manchester project aims to eliminate Hepatitis C by using a networked and phased approach. Community pharmacies will deliver point of care testing and dry blood spot testing to maximise the number of people tested and identify high risk patients as well as providing treatment in a more convenient location for the individual. Pharmacies will be targeted in terms of methadone dispensing and opiate replacement therapy as well as those operating a safe needle exchange.
Following an initial pilot, the project will look to test and treat the wider population groups at high risk of infection and a rapid testing and treatment regime will also be implemented for those in or entering prison.
Testing within a prison has so far tested 56 people, of which 26 were found to be Hepatitis C positive and started treatment the next day. Community pharmacy testing has also been successful with 150 people tested and 32 found to be positive and referred for treatment.
One patient said: “The treatment helps. I feel safer now knowing that I am getting better. I don’t want to put myself at risk again.”
The project aims to bring specialist services to the patient at the point of need and develop a new, more cost-effective testing and treatment infrastructure. It would also result in a reduction in associated healthcare costs and a better quality of life for patients.
To find out more about hepatitis c visit the Hepatitis C Trust website.