More on hepatitis C at
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
October 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 7