People aged over 18 and living in England can now order a free confidential home test for hepatitis C via the NHS. The self-sample testing process involves taking a few drops of blood from the finger.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) global hep C elimination target is to reduce new infections by 90 per cent and deaths by 65 per cent among member states by 2030. However, last year the NHS announced that it was on track to eliminate the virus five years ahead of the WHO target date as a result of new drugs and dedicated ‘find and treat’ programmes.
According to the most recent UKHSA report on hepatitis C, around 81,000 people in England are currently living with a chronic HCV infection, down from almost 130,000 in 2015. More than 60 per cent of these are people with a past drug injecting history, while 27 per cent are ‘current or recent PWID’. As injecting drug use is the main driver of HCV transmission, it was concerning that ‘a significant proportion of PWID remain unaware of their HCV infections’, the report added.
‘If you are concerned about hepatitis C, it’s never been easier to find out if you have it,’ said Hepatitis C Trust CEO Rachel Halford. ‘You can go many years before you experience any symptoms of hepatitis C but the damage the virus can do to your liver as it goes undetected can be life-threatening. Free, at-home testing kits will give anyone who is worried about hepatitis C the ability to find out their status quickly and confidentially. Thankfully, hepatitis C can be treated via a short course of tablets. Order your test now so that you can get cured as quickly as possible.’
Tests available at https://hepctest.nhs.uk/
Hepatitis C in England 2022 report at report.pdfhttps://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1057271/HCV-in-England-2022-full-report.pdf