Nottingham leads country in hepatitis C home-testing response
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Hepatitis C is transmitted through to blood-to-blood contact. People who have had medical procedures, tattoos or piercings, in countries or premises with poor infection control, those who had a blood transfusion pre-1992, and those who have shared drug-taking equipment are particularly at risk
Many do not realise they have the virus, as there are often no symptoms. Left untreated, however, it can lead to liver disease and cancer.
The World Health Organization aims to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2025. These new tests will help England to be among the first countries to eliminate it as a major public health issue.
Free home-testing kits were introduced nationwide in May and Nottingham has had the greatest return rate so far.
Anyone aged 18 and over can order the tests, which are sent in discreet packaging. The test requires a finger prick with a tiny blood sample dropped into a test-tube, returned in a pre-paid envelope for analysis: results are sent out within two weeks.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but a course of tablets is effective at clearing the infection in more than 90 per cent of people.
Amber Copeland, NUH viral hepatitis project support manager, said: “By increasing access to testing, we can diagnose and treat people for hepatitis C earlier, which in turn will help stop it being passed on.”
The viral hepatitis team has planted a tree outside Queen’s Medical Centre to mark World Hepatitis Day 2023.
To order a test, see hepctest.nhs.uk/ref/ntm1