Drink and Drugs News DDN October 2018 | Page 7

C More on hepatitis C at www.drinkanddrugsnews.com change The most common method of transmission in the UK today is through the sharing of needles and other drug paraphernalia. straightforward to take and can be delivered effectively in the community, and those who have adapted are already seeing the benefits in terms of increased treatment numbers and patient satisfaction. ere in West London I am fortunate to work with a team people who are proactive and committed, and prepared to go beyond the normal call of duty. My specialist nurses already offer counselling, testing and treatment in a whole range of locations including drug and alcohol services, sexual health clinics, homeless hostels, needle/syringe exchanges and mental health facilities. One consultant colleague is offering clinics in a GP surgery that caters to marginalised communities and another is piloting a scheme for point-of-care testing in community pharmacies. Along with my PhD fellow I have established an in-reach service at the local prison, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, and while it has taken some time to navigate the prison bureaucracy the service is already paying dividends with increasing numbers of prisoners accessing treatment. Additionally, I am working hard to reconnect with patients who have fallen out of contact with services. While NHS England and Public Health England quite rightly focus on the statistics – already we have seen a significant decrease in the demand for liver transplant for HCV and hospital admissions due to HCV-related liver failure – what drives those of us who work on the ground is the individual human benefit that each and every patient derives from treatment. The physical and psychological benefit of clearing a virus that can potentially lead to cancer or premature death is immeasurable, as are the benefits to society of a healthier, happier workforce. The walls of our clinics are covered with ‘Thank You’ cards from grateful patients – one that brought a tear to my eye was from a young girl who simply said ‘Thank you for giving me my Grandpa back.’ The transformation of HCV from an unknown virus to potential global elimination within a single career lifetime is truly a one-off event, and the possibility for a genuine public health success story remains within our grasp. But this will only be achieved by education of public and professionals alike, and a willingness from all parties to adapt. With your help, I hope we can put this ‘silent killer’ to bed before I collect my pension. Prof Ashley Brown is vice chair of the Hepatitis C Coalition and hepatitis C lead for North West London Turn to the centre section for our pull-out-and-keep hepatitis C supplement H www.drinkanddrugsnews.com October 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 7