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WHD_2020 World Hepatitis Day 2020

The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2020 is “Find the Missing Millions”, referring to the many millions of people worldwide unaware that they are living with viral hepatitis.

Drug and Alcohol Findings has a strong history of bringing attention to the injecting-related hepatitis C crisis in the UK. Much of this work has been brought together under an Effectiveness Bank hot topic titled, “Hepatitis C ‘giant’ still growing”. This essay breaks down:
• the structural inequalities underpinning the transmission, treatment, and prevention of hepatitis C;
• how harm reduction has become the cornerstone of infection control;
• why hopes of a further major contribution to stemming the hepatitis C epidemic may be dashed by ever-diminishing resources.

This year we added two studies to the Effectiveness Bank that specifically address the challenges of (and opportunities for) addressing hepatitis C in custodial settings. Click on the blue links below to read our analyses and scroll down further for facts about hepatitis C.

What could it take to eradicate hepatitis C in prisons?
Successes and shortcomings characterising the experience of prisons in the North East of England illustrate how testing and treatment for hepatitis C could be optimised in custodial settings. Yet, without a strong pillar of harm reduction accompanying this approach, is it realistic to think prisons can combat the spread of hepatitis C?

Are other prisoners key to improving the uptake of hepatitis C testing and treatment?
Prisons are important sites for delivering public health interventions, but also present unique challenges. Could prison peer workers help link other prisoners to testing and treatment for hepatitis C? This study looks for answers in an Irish men’s prison.

HOT TOPIC ‘Game-changing’ infection therapies plus flood of harm reduction would roll back hepatitis C
Countries such as the UK still have high levels of hepatitis C despite considerable investment in needle exchange and methadone and buprenorphine maintenance. What would it take to make substantial further progress?
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Facts about hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus and can be transmitted through the sharing of injecting equipment.

During the period when hepatitis C is first contracted, most people either do not experience any noticeable symptoms, or experience symptoms that are similar to many other short-term infections. This means that they are unlikely to seek medical attention, and if they do, doctors would not necessarily suspect or test for hepatitis C.

A positive test for hepatitis C antibodies indicates exposure to the hepatitis C virus at some point, but cannot confirm current infection.

A small proportion of those infected with hepatitis C will naturally clear the virus from their body in the first six months. However, estimates from Public Health England suggest that 3 in 4 people will develop a chronic infection.

#WorldHepatitisDay #WorldHepDay #FindTheMissingMillions

The Drug and Alcohol Findings Effectiveness Bank offers a free mailing list service updating subscribers to UK-relevant evaluations of drug/alcohol interventions. Findings is supported by the Society for the Study of Addiction and Alcohol Change UK, and advised by the National Addiction Centre.