WithYou has achieved micro-elimination of hepatitis C at its North Lincolnshire service, taking a step towards NHS England’s target to eliminate the virus by 2025.
The service has achieved micro-elimination by meeting a set of criteria, including: offering 100% of clients in structured treatment a hepatitis C test; testing 100% of those with a history of injecting; ensuring 90% of current and previous injectors (at risk) have a hepatitis C test date within the last 12 months; and ensuring 90% of clients who have tested positive for hepatitis have commenced or completed treatment.
NHS England has set a target to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025. As part of a partnership with Gilead Sciences, WithYou committed to micro-eliminate hepatitis C in 12 of their blood-borne virus commissioned services.
‘As an organisation, we are committed to and passionate about eliminating hepatitis C and supporting NHS England and partners to achieve and sustain our shared ambition. We recognise that clients may not always disclose their past injecting history or other risk factors; that’s why we want to challenge the stigma that surrounds hepatitis. Through these interventions, we have an opportunity to bust those myths, raise awareness, and empower people to stay safe and make informed decisions’, said Emma Lamond, Director of Integrated Treatment at WithYou.
‘I would like to thank the North Lincolnshire team who have achieved micro-elimination; the impact they’ve had is extraordinary. Their hard work means our service users have a greater chance of receiving timely, appropriate treatment and ultimately have the opportunity to get better.’
WithYou services are actively raising awareness and enhancing testing and treatment processes. Whilst the micro-elimination approach enables services to focus efforts on high-risk areas, the priority has been to normalise testing and embed it as part of core services. For this reason, WithYou launched their ‘Test, Treat, Repeat’ campaign to encourage services to test every client whether or not they inject drugs.
Jimmy, a client from WithYou in North Lincolnshire treated for hepatitis C, said of his experience, ‘I got hep C in the early 90s and there was no cure. I first heard there was a cure about 15 years later, but the rumour was the treatment was nasty, painful and complicated. But roll on 10 years, my WithYou recovery worker told me the new treatment was a lot better with hardly any side effects. It was one tablet a day for about three months I think so I decided to get treated and just three months later I got tested it was all clear. I had no side effects and I went around town with The Hep C Trust to pass the word to other people and urged them to get treated.’
‘This has been a real team effort, everyone in the service has been involved in achieving this and actively encouraging clients to get tested and treated,’ added Kate House, Head of Service Delivery for WithYou in North Lincolnshire. ‘We have also worked closely with The Hep C Trust and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; we wouldn’t have achieved this without these partnerships. I’m also really proud of the clients for their bravery in coming forward for testing and working with us when treatment has been recommended.’
Emma concluded, ‘On behalf of WithYou I would also like to share our appreciation for all our BBV-commissioned service staff for their ongoing dedication, and to partners for their continued collaboration. We could not have reached this milestone without the joint working partnership and the dedicated and passionate teams involved.
‘There is of course still work to be done – we must continue our comprehensive testing programme to sustain micro-elimination status and strive towards complete elimination of hepatitis C going forward which includes strengthening our harm reduction provision and reaching more people .’
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