Hepatitis C Education - Why is it essential?

Regular Hepatitis C training as standard practice is important. It keeps the World Health Organisation goal of global elimination by 2030, and the UK target of elimination by 2025, high on drug and alcohol services’ agenda.

In the arena of recovery focussed services, it highlights harm reduction as a key Intervention.  Since the 2010 drug strategy was introduced with an emphasis towards recovery outcomes and exits from treatment, attention may have shifted from interventions such as safer injecting, overdose awareness and hepatitis C testing, treatment and support. However, focus on this is essential because it improves quality of life and saves lives.  Regular hep C and other harm reduction training sessions help to reinforce a staff focus on hep C prevention, testing, treatment and reinfection awareness as a core intervention of the harm reduction work they deliver.  Education in this area is also vital to help tackle stigma.

Knowledge delivered to professionals through training can then be disseminated to colleagues and the service users they work with, passing on valuable information about transmission, reducing harm, lowering infection rates and working towards eliminating re-infections.

From a strategic perspective it can improve outcomes for the service in regards to better health and wellbeing for service users, service users having trust in the service and its workforce.

Additionally it can show the service in a positive light with key stakeholders, as positive outcomes evidence services are working in line with national guidelines.


What should a training session contain?

  • What hepatitis C is – a breakdown of what we know about the virus, history and prevalence
  • The WHO elimination vision (the vision for a viral hepatitis C free planet), the NHSE Elimination Programme, the UK treatment services commitment and involvement in this objective
  • The Drug Treatment Service Provider Forum agreed micro-elimination criteria and how we can reach micro-elimination targets.
  • Transmission routes and risk factors for infection
  • Progression of the illness from the acute stage, possible spontaneous clearance, chronic stage, fibrosis-cirrhosis and possible cancer if not treated in a timely fashion.
  • Geno-types and the national and global prevalence, the efficacy of past treatments in relation to genotyping.
  • A guide of how to read test results (PCR/RNA, AB+, SVR)
  • It is essential that we address barriers to testing, diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis C. It is also best practice to share solutions to issues raised.
  • Testing options; It is important explore the full range of options for testing that are available for treatment providers to use and how NHS Addictions Provider Alliance (NHS-APA) services can take advantage of one of the Cepheid geneXpert machines that Hep C U Later has on loan.
  • Past and present treatment options, interferon vs Direct Acting Antivirals (the newer treatments for hep C treatment), myth busting and moving on from the past.
  • A practical refresher of how to take a test.
  • Addressing stigma – taking a look at the language that has been used when referring to the client group we serve in the past and moving away from outdated, stigma heavy language in favour of empowering individuals with the way we speak.
  • A focus on harm reduction strategies with the goal of reducing new infections and re-infections so micro-elimination can be sustained within our services – joint working with peer organisations such as The Hepatitis C Trust are crucial in this process.


How can Hep C U Later support your service?

We are currently offering a wide range of hepatitis C, BBV and harm reduction training packages to services within the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance network.

The training packages that are delivered on behalf of Hep C U Later can be tailored to your service need, whether that be a catch up on the elimination process and our common goals, or full viral hepatitis training sessions that can be delivered face-face or through virtual mediums.  These sessions can also be delivered in partnership with the Hepatitis C Trust, giving services invaluable information on how peer involvement can support services to engage hidden populations within their areas. The peer elements to training sessions often include testimonials on living with, and recovery from, the hepatitis C virus.

Hep C U Later have the use of Cepheid geneXpert machines.  These machines can be loaned to services within the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance network to complete targeted testing work. The machine loan length can be negotiated to take into consideration the scale of the work that needs to be completed.  Training and support with the use of these amazing pieces of technology can be arranged by talking to one our national elimination coordinators, the training coordinator or contacting Hep C U Later directly. The loan process can then be negotiated by Louise Hansford, Laura Hughes and myself.


If you’re an NHS Trust which is a member of the NHS APA and you’re interested in hepatitis C training or want to explore using one of the Cepheid GeneXpert machines in your service contact us:

Tony.Mullaney@mpft.nhs.uk  (07977 397820, Hep C U Later Training and Development Coordinator)

Lousie.Hansford@mpft.nhs.uk (South and London Hepatitis C Elimination Coordinator)

Laura.Hughes@mpft.nhs.uk (Midlands and North Hepatitis C Elimination Coordinator)


Tony Mullaney (Training and Development Coordinator, Hep C U Later)