Citywide hepatitis C testing campaign

The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Peter Baillie, adds his support to citywide hepatitis C testing campaign

Mayor-having-blood-testToday the Right Worshipful The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Peter Baillie, added his support to an innovative campaign running across the city that encourages people who may be at risk or have been at risk of having hepatitis C to get tested and treated by having the blood spot test himself. In addition to testing for hepatitis C, the blood spot can also identify the HIV virus and the hepatitis B virus, and the team is working with the sexual health services run by Solent NHS Trust to help treat HIV.

Speaking at Pharmacy Direct in Bitterne, the Right Worshipful Councillor Peter Baillie, Mayor of Southampton, said: “I am very proud to do my bit to add my support for this innovative campaign to eliminate hepatitis C by encouraging people in Southampton to get tested in pharmacies. Many people carrying hepatitis C won’t necessarily know they have got it, so are at risk of passing it on to others. Testing and treatment are really easy – just a finger prick blood test and tablets, so I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be at risk by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person to take the test.

Dr Charlotte Cook, Hepatology Research Fellow and Gastroenterology Registrar, says: “One of the big challenges of this work has been to find people who carry the virus. Having the test in a pharmacy is more accessible than booking an appointment with a GP or going to a hospital. The treatment of hepatitis C is now much easier to take as it can be given as just one pill a day for a few months. It is now within our reach to eliminate the virus from the City of Southampton.”

As a result of funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - the research arm of the NHS - the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Solent NHS Trust and the University of Southampton have worked with Southampton City Council to set up testing points at pharmacies throughout the city to help identify and treat people with hepatitis C. Pharmacies in Southampton taking part in this campaign are Bassil Chemist at 55A Bedford Place, Sanga Pharmacy at 48 Thornhill Park Rd and Regent's Park Pharmacy at 61 Regents Park Rd.

People at highest risk of hepatitis C include those who

  • Have injected drugs, including steroids, even once.
  • Have had a tattoo, piercing or acupuncture in unregistered premises or with possibly unsterile equipment.
  • Have received a blood transfusion or blood products prior to 1991.
  • Were born or received medical procedures in a high risk area (Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa).Have pricked themself on a needle or sharp object that has been used on someone else.
  • Have had unprotected sex with anyone who is known to have HIV, hepatitis B or C or might have been at risk for any of the reasons listed above.
  • Have regularly shared razors or toothbrushes with anyone who is known to have hepatitis B or C or might have been at risk for any of the reasons listed above.

For more information visit the hepatitis C trust website:  
 
The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care 
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research 
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future 
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services 
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy