The Humankind charity has launched a new national Hepatitis C Action Plan to mark World Hepatitis Day on 28 July.
The action plan aims to further increase testing for Hepatitis C across all Humankind services, ensuring specialist pathways and onsite treatment for the virus.
‘Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through blood-to-blood contact, such as sharing needles,’ said Stacey Smith, Nursing Director at Humankind, which has drug and alcohol recovery services across the country.
‘The government have recently identified that people are not getting access to needle and syringe services as they should in this country. At Humankind, we are picking up that challenge. We really need to further embed hepatitis testing and treatment within our services so that there is no closed doors.’
She said testing was vital as there can be no noticeable symptoms in the first stages of infection, although it can cause major health problems.
Among a list of pledges set out in the plan, the organisation states it will:
- Invest in staff to increase testing rates and re-testing rates of people at risk
- invest in training for staff to ensure we have a skilled workforce
- allow time for data inputting
- ensure testing provision is across the whole treatment system
- reach out to people who are not registered with its services
- commit to listening to what people who use its services say on how best to tackle the issue.
Meanwhile, Humankind is joining a national campaign to raise awareness of Hepatitis C and the fact it can now be cured by a simple course of tablets.
On World Hepatitis Day, the organisation, along with a range of other charities, NHS Trusts and the Hep C Trust are backing the Hep C U Later campaign online and within its services.
‘Our message is that this virus can be treated and can actually be cured easily!,’ said Stacey Smith. ‘It’s not like the old treatment which lasted for months and sometimes had side effects. The success rate for this short course of tablets is much higher and it’s unlikely you’ll feel ill.’
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