For European Testing Week, The Hepatitis C Trust organised an event in Parliament to bring people working on the frontline of hepatitis C and blood-borne virus care together with parliamentarians.
European Testing Week runs from 20-27 November 2023 and sees health services and organisations unite to promote awareness of the benefits of earlier hepatitis and HIV testing and to strengthen testing efforts.
Cross-party parliamentarians joined peer teams from The Hepatitis C Trust working across England, along with representatives from NHS England, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the National AIDS Trust and the British Liver Trust.
MPs heard about the work taking place in their constituencies to find people living with hepatitis C, get them tested and support them into treatment. Our staff also helped several MPs to take a rapid finger-prick test during the event, to demonstrate how simple this can be.
We are proud to celebrate the great successes we have seen due to NHS England’s hepatitis and HIV programmes. If we are to meet NHS England’s goal to eliminate hepatitis C as a major public health concern by 2025 and end new HIV transmissions by 2030, a crucial part of this is access to testing. This is why NHS England has rolled out a highly effective opt-out testing scheme in Emergency Departments and has launched a service allowing people to order a simple home test kit for hepatitis C.
The Hepatitis C Trust is the UK’s dedicated national hepatitis C charity, supporting those at risk of or living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis C spread by blood-to-blood contact and can lead to severe and even fatal damage to the liver. It primarily affects those from marginalised backgrounds, including people who inject drugs, homeless people, people in prison, and certain migrant communities. The virus was also transmitted to thousands of people through NHS medical procedures and blood products before the mid-1990s, which is currently being examined as part of the Infected Blood Inquiry ordered by the Government.
The virus is preventable, treatable and curable, with medications available on the NHS that can cure it within 12 weeks. However, a majority of the estimated 70,600 people in England still living with hepatitis C are undiagnosed.