OPPORTUNITY: Hepatitis C Pilot service launch & training for Community Pharmacists within Southampton City

A launch event to engage with and initially train proposed community pharmacy sites to provide this new service

The World Health Organisation have stated an aim to eliminate Hepatitis C as a public health problem by 2030, and the UK have set an even more ambitious target of 2025

Hepatitis C is a curable blood borne virus, but without treatment can progress to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and liver cancer

Previously Hepatitis C treatment was challenging with multiple side effects and contraindications including certain mental health conditions. However, there are now a new group of drugs (direct acting antiviral agents) that are simpler to take, have fewer side effects and require a shorter course of treatment

In order to eliminate Hepatitis C, treatment needs to be targeted at those at particular risk of transmitting the virus, including people who inject drugs. However, this group can be difficult to access and often face difficulties engaging with medical services. However, this group may attend pharmacies for opiate substitution therapy or needle exchange services.

Studies in both the Isle of Wight and Scotland have shown that testing people for Hepatitis C in community pharmacies increases the number of diagnoses and is also cost effective

University Hospital Southampton (UHS) are initiating a pilot study which involves testing for Hepatitis C in community pharmacies across Southampton. The testing is a dry blood spot test. Training and support will be provided to all pharmacists taking part.

For this pilot study the UHS team have the backing of commissioners and are liaising with CPSC to recruit pharmacy sites across the Southampton City area. An evening launch event is being organised to engage with interested pharmacies.

For further details regarding this project or to register an interest in be considered to take part, please contact:

  • Charlotte Cook, Hepatology Research Fellow and Gastroenterology Registrar, UHS