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Emergency Departments

NHS England has a national aim of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat ahead of 2030, as part of a wider global World Health Organisation goal.  Hep C U Later exists to support the elimination of hepatitis C, recognising that hepatitis C can be prevented, identified and cured. It is estimated there are currently 70,000 people in England who are unaware they have a hepatitis C infection.

If the hepatitis C virus is not identified and treated this can lead to liver damage, cancer and death.   There are a number of risk factors for hepatitis C and people do not always recognise they have the infection due to a lack of symptoms.  The only way to know is to engage people in testing.

“Universal testing reduces stigma and helps us to find people who may have a historic risk of infection, be unaware, and who won’t access testing elsewhere. The HCV Elimination Programme at NHS England has been excited about testing in generic, open-access services for some time. Having tested this out in some Emergency Departments since Spring 2021, we partnered with HIV colleagues to ensure a comprehensive opt-out blood-borne virus testing service in some Emergency Departments.  The success to date suggests that we should roll this out further.

Already, this intervention has saved lives and made testing ‘just something that everyone does’. Because of this intervention, we are now closer to succeeding with eliminating HCV as a public health issue in England in advance of the World Health Organisation target of 2030.”

Mark Gillyon-Powell, Head of NHSE’s HCV elimination programme

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