Pharmacists Able to Detect 'Hidden' Hepatitis C in Drug Users
MANCHESTER, England, September 26 /PRNewswire/ -- New hope is on the way for intravenous drug users who are, unknowingly, suffering from the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) according to the preliminary results of a pilot project in Lincolnshire to be launched today (Monday, 26 September 2005) at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester.
A new four month pilot project, commissioned by the Lincolnshire Drug Alcohol Action Team, offered HCV testing to all clients who attended substance misuse services in two pharmacies. The pharmacies were one setting as part of a multi-agency approach for the delivery of HCV antibody testing within different settings.
The results showed that, of those tested, more than a third (32%) tested HCV antibody positive. These clients were referred on to specialist treatment services if required. They were also offered counselling and advice on safer injecting and how to minimise self-harm.
The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a highly infectious blood borne virus. Left untreated it can lead to serious liver disease including cirrhosis and liver cancer and, potentially, can lead to death(1). However, worryingly, symptoms may not present themselves until the disease develops into a chronic infection.
It is thought that the main transmission route of HCV is through the sharing of blood-contaminated drug injecting paraphernalia by intravenous drug users. Previous studies have shown a 30% prevalence rate amongst this group(2). According to the Pharmacy Based Substance Misuse Services Co-ordinator Debbie Newton, who project managed this new initiative on behalf of Lincolnshire NHS, in-pharmacy detection of HCV is vital for this 'hidden' group who may not access any other treatment services.
"Of those clients, who tested HCV positive, they all appear to have contracted the disease within the last two years," she explains. "Thanks to this new project 78% were referred to secondary services for treatment. Failing to detect and treat HCV could have had serious health consequences for these people."
Mrs Newton conclude:, "This pilot project strongly suggests that it is feasible to deliver a new care pathway for HCV sufferers from a community pharmacy setting, directly into a secondary care service."
Notes for editors
(1) Department of Health. July 2004. Hepatitis C Action Plan for England.
(2) Department of Health. August 2002. Hepatitis C Strategy for England.
In October 2003, the Department of Health allocated GBP1million in support of the National HCV Strategy, to improve the evidence base on prevalence and incidence rates. Lincolnshire Drug Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) made a successful bid.
The pharmacy was just one setting as part of a multi-agency approach for the delivery of HCV antibody testing within different settings. Results are to be compared at a later date.
61 clients enquired in pharmacies about the HCV antibody testing service. 28 (46%) were tested and 9 (32%) tested HCV antibody positive. 23 (82%) returned for their results. 11 (39%) were aged 20 - 24 years, 7 (25%) aged 25 - 29 years, 9 (32%) aged 30 - 34 years and 1 aged 42 years. Of the 28 (46%) tested, 16 (57%) had previously been tested HCV antibody negative during the past 2 years and 9 (56%) of those have since tested HCV antibody positive. 4 (44%) were female and 5 (56%) were male, with 2 couples identified with both partners being infected. 7 (78%) of the 9 HCV antibody positives consented to onward referral to a specialist consultant.
The British Pharmaceutical Conference is being held Monday 26 - Wednesday 28 September 2005 at the Manchester International Convention Centre. The conference theme is A common vision for health: Linking science with practice.
SOURCE Royal Pharmaceutical Society of GB
Journalists and Bloggers
Visit PR Newswire for Journalists for releases, photos and customised feeds just for Media.
View and download archived video content distributed by MultiVu on The Digital Center.
Until you hear the full story, why would you invest?
Making sound investment decisions can be difficult. You can study the figures and read the analyst recommendations, but how do you really know the story behind company strategy? How can you get answers to your questions?
The Private Investor Network helps you to reach an informed decision on the stocks you pick. Interactive presentations from UK listed companies give you the kind of access previously enjoyed only by the big fund managers. And with keynote speeches from industry experts, downloadable content and an investor lounge where you can swap tips with your peers, you can invest with confidence.
For more information, and to register for FREE, visit us at www.privateinvestornetwork.co.uk
Get content for your website
Enhance your website's or blog's content with PR Newswire's customised real-time news feeds.
Contact PR Newswire
Send us an email at MarketingUK@prnewswire.co.uk or call us at +44 (0)20 7454 5382
Become a PR Newswire client
Request more information about PR Newswire products & services or call us at +44 (0)20 7454 5382