Pharmacists working to Eliminate Hep C

Andrew RadleyArticle by Andrew Radley, Consultant in Public Health Pharmacy, NHS Tayside

In 2016, the World Health Organisation advocated that Hepatitis C (HCV) could be eliminated as a public health problem by 2030.  The current WHO factsheet for HCV tells us that:

HCV is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both a mild illness lasting a few weeks or a serious, lifelong illness that can be fatal.

The most common route to infection is through exposure to small quantities of blood e.g. through injecting drug use. Across the world, an estimated 71 million people have chronic HCV infection. Approximately 399 000 people die each year from HCV, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.  Read more Pharmacists working to Eliminate Hep C

Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

By Dr Suman Verma, co-chair of the London Joint Working Group of Substance Use and Hepatitis C and Hepatology Consultant at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

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