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National charities launch pilot to support the south west’s fight to eliminate hep C

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Hepatitis C – where the South West leads the rest of England may follow

Truro, 30 July 2014. Addaction Cornwall, the local branch of the national drug and alcohol charity, today announced the launch of a first-in-class pilot programme to support the South West’s fight against hepatitis C. The pilot programme delivered in partnership with The Hepatitis C Trust and a leading pharmaceutical company, AbbVie was launched at a roundtable meeting of key stakeholders in Truro, Cornwall on 23 July.

The pilot programme is validating a number of approaches that should improve hepatitis C testing and treatment in those with a history of injection drug use, a typically hard to reach population who find it difficult to access traditional models of care. The partnership’s evidence-based approach includes workforce training, peer-to-peer education and buddying, a name given to one-on-one support that helps people through their hospital and treatment journey.

Beyond testing and treating people with a history of injection drug use, there are several other potential benefits including:

  • Demonstrating the South West’s leadership and commitment to elimination of hepatitis C
  • Freeing up of NHS resources
  • Reducing community acquired transmission of hepatitis C

Following the successful completion of the pilot programme it is anticipated that Cornwall’s leadership will lead to the programme being rolled out nationally in 2015.

Commenting on the launch, Sue Clark, Operations Director, Addaction Cornwall, said, “We are proud to be leading the way in piloting a ground-breaking programme to improve the health of our communities, while contributing toward a longer-term vision of eliminating the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the South West”.

The Hepatitis C Virus is a potentially fatal infection that can cause serious liver disease including cirrhosis, liver cancer and end-stage liver failure. It is estimated that in England there are 160,000 people living with chronic hepatitis C infection,[1] of which 19,705 live in the South West, 2 and 1398 in Cornwall.[2]

In England, over 80 per cent of those diagnosed with hepatitis C have a history of injecting drugs at some point, and around 50 per cent of injecting drug users will have hepatitis C.[3] It is estimated that there are between 2,100 to 2,500 opiate (heroin) and/or crack (cocaine) users in Cornwall,[4] of which about 1,000 are engaged with Addaction Cornwall.[5]

Commenting on the need for new approaches in the elimination of hepatitis C, Dr Hyder Hussaini, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, said, “Despite the fact that there are effective prevention and treatment options, hepatitis C and its management continues to have devastating effects on the quality of life and social wellbeing of those with a history of injection drug use in the South West. We welcome this new partnership programme and I hope that all those involved in the fight to eradicate hepatitis C will support this important initiative”.

Charles Gore, CEO, The Hepatitis C Trust, said “This is an exciting programme that we hope will maximise the opportunity for elimination of hepatitis C in the region and we are confident that where the South West leads, the rest of England will follow”.

ENDS

EDITOR’S NOTES

About World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is an official World Health Organisation awareness day on the 28th July each year that provides international focus for patient groups and people living with viral hepatitis. It is an opportunity to raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

About Addaction

Addaction is a national drug and alcohol agency that aims to put service users in charge of their lives and at the heart of the organisation. Helping to change people’s lives and bring families back together fuels Addaction’s motivation and drives the organisation forward.

About The Hepatitis C Trust

The Hepatitis C Trust is the national UK charity for hepatitis C. It was founded and is led and run by people with personal experience of hepatitis C and almost all of the Board, staff and volunteers either have hepatitis C or have had it and cleared it after treatment.

About AbbVie

AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world's most complex and serious diseases. AbbVie employs approximately 25,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries. For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter or view careers on our Facebook or LinkedIn page.


[1] Public Health England. Hepatitis C in the UK. July 2013. Available at http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317139502302Accessed July 2014

[2] HCVAction. Health and Wellbeing Boards & Hepatitis C. A review of the evidence from Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies. P14. May 2014.

[3] Home Office. The Primary Prevention Of Hepatitis C Among Injecting Drug Users. 2009. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/119144/acmdhepcreport2.pdf

Accessed July 2014

[4] Alcohol and substance misuse - Cornwall Council. July 2014. Available at http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/public-health-cornwall/director-of-public-healths-annual-report/2012-director-of-public-healths-annual-report/health-improvement/alcohol-and-substance-misuse/ Accessed July 2014

[5] Data on file. Addaction.