Drink and Drugs News DDN 1806 | Page 5

read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com MORE THAN HALF TEST POSITIVE IN COMMUNITY HEP C PILOT A PILOT PROJECT OFFERING HEPATITIS C TESTING in pharmacies with needle exchange facilities has been hailed a success, with more than 50 per cent of those tested in the four-month scheme having hepatitis C antibodies. Almost 80 per cent of those who engaged with specialist services, meanwhile, had hep C viral particles in their blood. A report from the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C (LJWG) highlights the need for further awareness-raising, as 57 per cent of those taking part were unaware that medical advances meant the virus could be treated with oral tablets rather than painful interferon injections. The pilot – which was carried out at nine pharmacies across London – demonstrates the potential for offering treatment alongside testing, says LJWG, as 84 per cent of participants said they would be happy to receive treatment at their local pharmacy. Innovative testing initiatives were essential in order to diagnose and treat everyone who has the virus, said public health minister Steve Brine, who added that the government was still working to eliminate hep C by 2025. It is thought that around half of the estimated 160,000 people in England living with the virus remain undiagnosed, and a recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health stated that ‘significantly greater’ numbers of people would need to be tested, diagnosed and treated if it were to be successfully eliminated (DDN, April, page 4). ‘This project is another great example of how community pharmacists and their teams can support the health of their local communities and engage with people who may be reluctant to go to their GP,’ said chief executive of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Local MARKET MATTERS LONDON GANG TERRITORY is now more likely to be defined by a drug marketplace ‘that needs to be maintained’ than a postcode, according to a report from London Southbank University (LSBU). The emphasis on financial gain is also exhibited through alliances with other gangs and aggressive ‘county lines’ expansion, says From postcodes to profit, which was commissioned by Waltham Forest Council. Women and girls are increasingly used by the gangs to carry drugs, exposing them to violence and sexual exploitation, it adds. ‘What is striking is how ruthless and www.drinkanddrugsnews.com Pharmaceutical Committee, Rekha Shah. ‘We now have the treatments to eliminate hepatitis C as a serious public health concern in the UK,’ added LJWG co-chair and consultant hepatologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Dr Suman Verma. ‘Offering free, accessible hepatitis C testing in community ‘We will transform and save lives as well as preventing further virus transmissions...’ Dr sUmaN verma pharmacies is a more patient-centric way of engaging with a group of vulnerable, young people where hepatitis C prevalence and risk of transmission is high but, due to personal and social circumstances, engagement with community drugs services or healthcare services in general is poor and sporadic. ‘By offering hepatitis C testing in community pharmacies, we will transform and save lives as well as preventing further virus transmissions. This pilot project has the potential to be developed further to encompass the provision of hepatitis C antiviral treatment directly in the community pharmacies for this vulnerable, socially marginalised, at-risk population.’ Report at ljwg.org.uk See our September issue for the DDN wider health supplement on hepatitis C. exploitative some gangs have become,’ said associate professor of social work at LSBU, Andrew Whittaker. ‘Six out of ten gang members have anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and a third will have attempted suicide.’ Report at walthamforest.gov.uk ‘Women and girls are increasingly used by the gangs to carry drugs.’ OUT OF CONTROL LAST YEAR’S RECORD OPIUM CULTIVATION IN AFGHANISTAN (DDN, December/January, page 4) is leading to ‘unprecedented levels’ of potential heroin production, says the latest UNODC survey. Cultivation jumped by 63 per cent from 2016 levels, which means up to 900 tons of export-quality heroin with a purity of between 50 and 70 per cent could be produced, says Afghanistan opium survey 2017: challenges to sustainable development, peace and security. In the southern region of the country farmers now cultivate opium poppy in nearly 85 per cent of villages, with insecurity and lack of government control ‘a clear and well-established link’ to increased production. ‘Only a small share of the revenues generated by the cultivation and trafficking of Afghan opiates reaches Afghan drug trafficking groups,’ says UNODC. ‘Many more billions of dollars are made from trafficking opiates into major consumer markets, mainly in Europe and Asia.’ Document at www.unodc.org IN THE DARK THE UK CONTINUES TO HAVE SOME OF THE HIGHEST RATES OF ‘DARK NET’ DRUG PURCHASING in the world, according to the latest Global Drug Survey. More than 24 per cent of British respondents said they’d accessed substances in this way, behind only the Finns and Norwegians. MDMA, cannabis, LSD and NPS were the most commonly bought drugs. www.globaldrugsurvey.com DEATHLY FIGURES THE FIRST OVERVIEW OF DRUG-RELATED HOMICIDE RATES IN EUROPE has been produced by EMCDDA. Comparing statistics between countries can identify trends and help authorities to plan proportionate responses, says the agency, adding that the issue is ‘of serious concern in relation to the overall security situation in Europe and deeply affects communities at large, as drug use and drug markets can act as cross-cutting facilitators of acts of violence’. Drug-related homicide in Europe: a first review of the data and literature at www.emcdda.europa.eu COLLECTIVE GROWTH Exeter-based EDP Drug & Alcohol Services is the latest organisation to become part of Collective Voice, bringing the number of voluntary sector members to eight. ‘EDP brings a wealth of experience from delivering a range of substance misuse services in the South West,’ said Collective Voice chair Karen Biggs. ‘We look forward to working with an expanding membership going forward.’ June 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5