Hepatitis C Antibody Testing Service
The new Advanced service is focused on provision of point of care testing for Hepatitis C antibodies to people who inject illicit drugs, but who haven’t yet moved to the point of accepting treatment for their substance use
Hepatitis C is a curable disease which affects around 143,000 people in the UK with up to two-thirds of these people being undiagnosed. Many people will not recognise that they have Hepatitis C; but it can over 20 to 30 years result in cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. The vast majority of people infected would have contracted it through injecting drug use (90%).
The following presentation delivered jointly by Turning Point and the Hepatitis C Trust provides pharmacy teams with the basic information to support a greater understanding of Hepatitis C. Supported with the experiences of Paul Huggett from the Hepatitis C Trust, it will be invaluable to any pharmacy staff members who wants to explore this topic further.
The Community Pharmacy Hepatitis C Antibody Testing Service officially launched on 1st September 2020, following its initial planned introduction prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new Advanced focuses on people who inject drugs (PWIDs); such as steroids or heroin, but who are currently not accepting treatment for their substance use. Where people test positive for Hepatitis C antibodies, they will be referred for a confirmatory test and treatment, where appropriate.
The service is part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s national programme to eliminate Hep C virus as a major public health threat by 2025. The service aims to use community pharmacies to target PWIDs for testing, as they are the healthcare venue most likely to be visited by that group of people.
Any pharmacy that meets the service requirements will be able to provide the service, but it will be of most interest to contractors that provide a locally commissioned needle and syringe programme service, with a sufficient number of clients, to make the investment in provision of the service worthwhile.
Pharmacy contractors considering providing the service should first read the service specification and then consider the likely costs of providing the service and the number of PWIDs they are likely to be able to test.
To learn more about the service, please read the following PSNC website page:
Below, are listed important ‘Hepatitis C Antibody Testing Service’ related information, documents and resources that we have uploaded onto our LLR LPC website:
– The documents are listed in date order (newest at the top)
- Hepatitis C Antibody Test Service Specification.pdf
- Instant Blood borne virus tests HVC CE rev 170703.pdf
– the following video is also a useful resource: