hepatitis C in the community
In the UK, most cases of hepatitis C affect people who are very poorly reached by mainstream health services.
WHY DO WE WORK IN the community?
Around 90% of hepatitis C cases in the UK occur in people who have injected drugs. Often, these people face many barriers to accessing healthcare.
These barriers may sometimes – but not always – include: logistical concerns (e.g. travel time and cost, clinical hours, transportation), language barriers, homelessness or mental health needs. Some people we work with have low trust in medical professionals because of previous bad experiences of stigma and prejudice.
We work with the NHS and charity partners to take services to people where they need them. This makes it vastly easier for people to engage in testing, and to redesign hospital services so they are more accessible to everyone they need to serve.
Providing education, support and testing to people in the community via a peer-led model of care is critical to this, and to hepatitis C elimination.
We couldn’t do what we do without the Hepatitis C Trust and our peer volunteers. Through lived experience, they are able gain the patient’s trust and help them to engage with our service.
— Emma Arnold, Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist, Leicester’s Hospitals
WHY a peer-led model of CARE?
A peer is someone who shares an experience or characteristic with someone else. For us, this can be anyone who has experienced living with hepatitis C, or having faced similar barriers to health care. For example, spending time in prison or living as part of a particular community that is high risk for hepatitis C.
Our peer-based model of services builds trust with people based on shared experience, and uses this to help them access testing and treatment services, as well as to educate and inform people about their health.
Our peers use their own lived experience to engage and support other people, educating them about hepatitis C and helping them access care. Embedded in NHS teams, our peers also help reshape services so they can reach everyone that they serve.
We do this in every community and prison in England, as well as in parts of Wales and Scotland. We employ more than 150 staff in our community roles, and they are supported by almost 200 volunteers. They reach and support people who otherwise might not get healthcare, delivering a critical part of national work to eliminate hepatitis C as well as our own mission to Leave No One Behind.
But treatment is not where it ends for us. We encourage people who have gone through treatment to join us as peer volunteers and gain the confidence, experience and training needed to help them into employment.
One to One support interventions provided
People tested in the community
HCV positive patients found
Find out how we can support your work
If you work with people at risk of hepatitis C, get in touch to find out more about our peer programmes