Our policy work
We work nationally and internationally to advocate for the rights of people who have or may be at risk of hepatitis C.
Everyone has a right to access high-quality, timely healthcare. For some people, this may be more difficult.
We want to improve the experiences of people facing circumstances that make access to healthcare more challenging. These circumstances include experiences of homelessness, addiction, migration, contact with the criminal justice system, and more.
We also work alongside the NHS and other partners to support the UK and World Health Organization’s hepatitis C elimination goals.
Eliminating hepatitis C in the UK is a central part of our campaigns work, but we are also concerned about how elimination is maintained once we get there.
Cuts to harm reduction services limit a critical means to prevent new hepatitis C – as well as HIV and hepatitis B – infections and reach groups of people who are not usually well served by healthcare services.
These cuts must be reversed, and the UK Government must be open to trying new ways to reduce drug-related harm, such as introducing overdose prevention centres and heroin assisted treatment.
We are also actively involved with the Infected Blood Inquiry, and continue to advocate for people who contracted hepatitis C, HIV and hepatitis B via infected blood and blood products.
Our policy goals to 2025 include:
- All UK nations to have a national strategy in place for achieving and maintaining HCV elimination
We are calling on all UK governments to develop a National Hepatitis C Strategy which will ensure we reach elimination and that this is maintained over the long term.
This will require clear goals, strong disease surveillance, and a balanced approach to tackling hepatitis C. We will need a thorough and consistent approach to hepatitis C prevention, efforts to tackle stigma, rapid access to treatment and effective care and support for people who contract the virus.
We are particularly concerned about current progress in hepatitis C prevention. The number of people getting hepatitis C in the UK has not fallen in recent years despite huge progress in the overall elimination programme.
We are calling for step change in HCV prevention in all parts of the UK, which must include:
- optimal and equitable needle harm reduction and needle exchange provision for everyone who needs it, including people injecting opioids and other drugs, performance or imaging enhancing drugs and/or and chemsex drugs such as GHB and GBL
- consistent, accessible and tailored education and information around safer injecting and BBVs for everyone who needs it
- person-centred drug treatment provision for everyone who needs it including high quality, accessible and individually optimised opioid substitution therapy (OST) for all who want it.
- Build understanding of the value of lived experience in health service management and delivery
The model of peer support that we’ve developed for hepatitis C is recognised nationally and internationally. Since its inception, we’ve educated more than 150,000 people about the virus and supported 9,000 people into hepatitis C treatment.
The people we support often have a range of other health needs and we believe that embedding people with lived experience within health services is key to getting them the healthcare they need.
We are calling on UK governments to develop specific health services for very poorly served populations (sometimes called ‘Inclusion health’ populations), which include leadership, design and delivery roles for people with lived experience.
- Ensure everyone who received infected blood or blood products is diagnosed, and able to access the support and compensation they deserve
The Infected Blood Inquiry has highlighted the scale of injustices experienced by people who were given hepatitis C, hepatitis B and/or HIV through blood or blood products before the mid-1990s.
Incredibly, our helpline is still hearing from 2 people each month who are only now being diagnosed with hepatitis C, and whose only possible route of infection is a blood transfusion or treatment with blood products before the mid-1990s.
These people have had hepatitis C for at least 30 years, and have often suffered significant liver disease as a result.
We are calling for a national campaign to get people who received a blood transfusion before the mid-1990s tested for hepatitis C.
For everyone impacted by infected blood, we will continue to campaign for compensation and for the UK Government to formally recognise – and apologise for – the harm done. The UK Government must ensure support services – general wellbeing as well as psychosocial and clinical provision – are available to everyone impacted and will continue over the long term.
We campaign to make sure that everyone affected by hepatitis C receives the best possible treatment, services, support and care.
We’re only able to do this alongside our incredible supporters taking action to create change.
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Our impact across the UK
In Westminster, we engage with MPs and peers on a cross-party basis to ensure continued commitment to the target of eliminating hepatitis C and the action needed to achieve elimination by 2025.
We do this by organising meetings, events and constituency visits, producing briefings ahead of relevant debates, providing submissions to consultations and committee inquiries, and supporting MPs and peers with parliamentary activity such as Written Parliamentary Questions.
We previously provided the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Liver Health. The group’s work included holding an inquiry into hepatitis C elimination in England, which culminated in the Eliminating Hepatitis C in England report, published in March 2018. The inquiry and report played a key role in laying the ground for the NHS England ‘hepatitis C elimination deal’ launched in 2019.
In Scotland, we regularly engage with ministers and MSPs and coordinate a cross-party group of Scottish Hepatitis C Parliamentary Champions, which includes both the Scottish Labour Party and Scottish Liberal Democrat leaders, as well as key figures from the SNP, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Greens. We work closely with these contacts to maintain support for Scotland’s 2024 hepatitis C elimination target and to ensure hepatitis C features in debates on public health and drug policy.
We work with MSs from across the parties in Wales, including with our network of Welsh Hepatitis C Parliamentary Champions. We provided oral evidence to the Senedd Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s inquiry into hepatitis C, which led to its 2019 report on achieving hepatitis C elimination in Wales.
Following our recent focus on parliamentary engagement in Wales, the Welsh Government set out a range of new guidance and requirements around hepatitis C in January 2023, a key development in getting Wales back on track towards achieving elimination.