World Hepatitis Day 2021

Hepatitis C Lead at Turning Point Dr Becky John discusses the work Turning Point is doing to help the fight in eradicating hepatitis by 2030.

This year marks ten years on from the first World Hepatitis Day and the announcement by the World Health Organisation to eradicate hepatitis by 2030. It is also twenty years since the Hep C Trust first opened its doors. At Turning Point, we are committed to supporting the aim of eliminating hepatitis and recognise that it is a virus that affects many people using our drug and alcohol services. We have a dedicated team that develop strategies to improve access to hepatitis C testing and treatment across our organisation.

In the last ten years, great strides have been taken to raise awareness and increase accessibility to treatment. The traditional image of hepatitis testing and treatment being a nasty, difficult process is slowly being unravelled. Today testing is much less invasive, and treatment is typically one pill, once a day, for eight to 12 weeks, with limited side effects.

The Hepatitis C Strategy was launched by Turning Point in 2019. Approximately two in five people who have ever injected that use our drug and alcohol services will be infected with hepatitis C. The strategy outlines how we will work in partnership with other organisations to provide the most effective services to people we support by:

  • Giving our staff training and development
  • Increasing awareness of prevention methods
  • Ensuring we have the most up-to-date ways of testing and testing equipment
  • Specialist BBV treatment
  • Innovative practices

Since launching the Hepatitis C Team in 2020, Turning Point have treated over 160 people for hepatitis C, with over 3,500 tests performed. In May of this year, we had the highest number of tests in one month with an incredible 498 dry blood spot tests across all Turning Point services. May 2021 was also host to the inaugural Hepatitis C Week, a new awareness week with the aim of encouraging more people to get tested and into treatment. This increase in activity was also backed up and carried into June, with an amazing 470 dry blood spot tests completed.

Sandra (not her real name) was among the more than 59,000 people who accessed Turning Point’s drug and alcohol services last year and has benefited from testing. After living undiagnosed for more than 35 years, she tested positive for hepatitis C, underwent six weeks of treatment, and has since lost three stone in weight, going from a size 16 to size eight. She said her quality of life improved so greatly that it encouraged her to tackle her problems with alcohol too and aided in her recovery.

It is more important than ever to get people into treatment for this very treatable illness, so please join us in marking World Hepatitis Day 2021. Ten years into to worldwide fight against hepatitis and ten years into the battle to improve the lives of millions of people.

Read the full blog post here.

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