Hep C – Test, Treat, Cure
Blenheim is at the centre of the growing demands for action concerning the failure to treat those with hepatitis C. We are involved in an emergent strategy to support, facilitate and enable those focusing on hepatitis C to achieve the best possible outcomes.
National figures suggest 49% of people who inject drugs in the UK are hepatitis C positive, this compares to just 1% who are HIV positive. This group is more likely to have been in prison or have been homeless and 47% are unaware of having hepatitis C.
Only 3% of people with hepatitis C get treatment annually despite existing effective treatments being available. The rate is far lower for those with drug problems and figures are not kept regularly on people’s access to treatment. This hides an appalling institutional discrimination against drug users and other minority groups. Only 52% of Health and Wellbeing Boards have given any priority to hepatitis C despite many of them having high rates of infection. The numbers dying as a result of hepatitis C infection are rising at an alarming rate despite it being something for which there are effective treatments.
We are advocating that substance misuse agencies, the NHS and local authorities must do more to test, treat and cure those with hepatitis C. A first step would be for Public Health England to add a question to the data required from all service providers about whether those who are hepatitis C positive are receiving treatment or not, to ensure an adequate baseline on which to base an improvement plan.
We are working on improving our own internal data but we believe currently 12% of those at Blenheim recorded as having hepatitis C are in treatment. We are acting to ensure that from now on we accurately record whether people are accessing hepatitis C treatment services.
You can find more information about hepatitis C on our factsheet.
We are taking a two pronged approach to this issue;
1. In Blenheim Services we are committed to Blenheim’s Hep C Manifesto
At Blenheim we are finding those with hepatitis C and advocating and facilitating their access to treatment. We are introducing a range of initiatives in partnership with PHE, Hepatitis C Trust and the London Working Party on Hepatitis C including:
- Piloting new information leaflets for those with or suspected of being at risk
- Assisting in the development of peer support
- Training of all staff
- Ensuring that access to testing is available to everyone that uses our services.
2. Externally Blenheim is committed to:
- Actively campaigning to raise the issues at the highest level, demanding action
- Maintaining the pressure on the Department of Health to finance new drug therapies
- Actively seek out productive partnerships who share our ambitions
Progress so far:
- In January 2014 John Jolly, CEO of Blenheim, pledged the organisation to take action to ensure those with hepatitis C would get access to treatment and end years of discrimination.
- Blenheim has joined the London Joint Working Party on Hepatitis C.
- Blenheim is a member of the Hepatitis C Coalition which is advocating for improved prevention and treatment seeking to influence senior politicians and civil servants. The group is also seeking funding for the new hepatitis C treatments. It will be starting a major campaign in the autumn.
- In April 2014 Blenheim supported a symposium held at The International Liver Congress in London organised by the London Joint Working Party on Hepatitis C, which united stakeholders involved in the care and treatment of people with hepatitis C to demand that urgent action is taken to help eliminate the hepatitis C virus by 2030.
- Blenheim worked with the Hepatitis C Trust to draft an Early Day Motion in the House of Common’s on the eradication of hepatitis C which has now been signed by 45 MP’s.
- On the 9th July 2014 Blenheim facilitated a presentation by the Hepatitis C Trust at the Drugs Alcohol and Criminal Justice Parliamentary Group and together with the Hepatitis C Trust we are now seeking to set up a meeting of a number of parliamentary groups in October and will provide assistance in seeking an adjournment debate.
- Together with the Hepatitis C Trust we will be publishing this advert in Politics First in September and looking to campaign on the issues further on the back of this.