Local testing events have successfully helped GM residents at risk of Hep C infection | Press Releases

Local testing events have successfully helped GM residents at risk of Hep C infection

160 people were tested for Hep C over two months, with 11 people testing positive. All 11 have now either started or are waiting to start treatment.

Achieve Recovery Services, part of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), have successfully run a series of Hep C test testing events for GM residents who struggle with addiction, making them particularly at risk of Hepatitis C (Hep C) infection.

The events were coordinated by the Greater Manchester Operational Delivery Network (ODN), as part of the NHS England Needs Assessment Project – an initiative to undertake Blood Borne Virus (BBV) testing of people in contact with addictions services across England.

Throughout September and October 2022, Achieve tested GM people known to addiction services for Hep C, alongside Hep B and HIV. This took place at six Hep C testing events at Achieve sites across Bolton, Bury, Salford and Trafford. Testing also took place in seven community pharmacies who dispense opioid substitution treatment (OST), and in five hostels.

160 people were tested in total over the two months, with 11 people testing positive for Hep C.

All 11 people who tested positive have been referred on to hepatitis services, and have either started or are waiting to start treatment.

Alison Hardie, Lead Nurse at Achieve, GMMH said:

Alison Hardie

Alison Hardie, testing at one of the events

“Hep C is a virus which affects the liver and if left untreated can cause the liver to stop working properly and result in serious liver damage - including liver cancer. It often has no symptoms and can be passed from person to person via exposure to infected blood.

“One of the main ways Hep C is spread is by sharing drug-using paraphernalia such as injecting equipment, crack pipes or notes/straws - meaning people using addictions services have an increased risk of Hep C infection.

“However, when detected, Hep C is easily treatable. Direct Acting Antiviral (DAA) medication is highly effective, and cures the virus completely in more than 95% of cases, with minimal side effects.

“We are delighted with the success of our Hep C testing events. Testing on this scale could not have been possible without collaboration with the fantastic staff at North Manchester General Hospital, Hep C U later and the Hepatitis C Trust, as well as the pharmacists and hostel staff who provided a safe space for testing and assistance with promoting the events.”

One service user in Salford, who wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with Hep C after being tested as part of the project. He has now been booked into the Hepatitis Clinic at Achieve, which is facilitated by the Hepatitis team at North Manchester General Hospital. Through the clinic, he will receive treatment in the form of DAA medication for eight to twelve weeks. He said:

“If I hadn’t been tested as part of the project I might not have found out I have Hepatitis C.”

Kate Hall, Head of Operations at GMMH said:

“Our participation in the Needs Assessment Project was a great opportunity for large-scale Hep C testing, and we’re delighted with the outcomes achieved in just two months.

“This formed part of Achieve’s wider ongoing Hep C commitment, working closely with local hepatitis services on a shared goal of testing, treating and curing people with Hep C, to improve health outcomes for individuals and reduce the transmission of the virus amongst people who access addictions services.

“To anyone who feels they may be at risk of Hep C infection, it is so important to know that support and treatment is available. Please don’t delay – get tested as soon as you can."

Further information and guidance about Hep C can be found on the Hep C U Later and Hepatitis C Trust websites.

If you feel that you are at risk of Hep C infection, speak with your GP or your local addiction service, who can signpost you to the most appropriate support.

Achieve provide community addiction services in Bolton, Bury, Salford and Trafford. To find out more and to get in touch with Achieve, visit: https://www.gmmh.nhs.uk/achieve.

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