This month the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C published results of an innovative pilot project that offered point-of-contact hepatitis C testing to people who use needle exchange services in 8 community pharmacies across London. More than half of those tested (53%) had hepatitis C antibodies and were referred directly into specialist services via newly created referral pathways for further tests and for potentially life-saving treatment. Of those engaging with specialist services, 78% had detectable hepatitis C virus particles in their blood and 33% had advanced liver disease with cirrhosis.
Whilst the scale of this pilot is small, its implications are huge. Hepatitis C is a serious public health issue in London. Public Health England estimate there are more than 40,000 people living with the virus and around half of these people are undiagnosed. Read more Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C