Charities and industry join together to improve testing of hepatitis C in prisons

Posted on: 11th February 2019

The British Liver Trust is a member of the Hepatitis C Coalition – a a group of leading clinicians, patient organisations, professional groups, industry and other interested parties committed to reducing hepatitis C-related illness and the eventual elimination of the virus.

The Hepatitis C Coalition hosted a roundtable bringing together NHS England, the Department for Health and Social Care, Public Health England, the Ministry of Justice, HM Prison and Probation Service, clinicians, charities and industry. The purpose of the roundtable was to bring together broad range of stakeholders involved in the intersection of health and justice, to facilitate a discussion about how best to improve testing and treatment rates in prisons and to explore how all parties can work in closer collaboration to achieve the mutual elimination aim.

Participant agreed that the UK is on the cusp of achieving a huge public health prize, with prisons and secure settings presenting a promising setting to achieve elimination before the rest of the population. While the setting presented clear challenges for ‘micro-elimination’, it was agreed that this was not only possible, but could feed into tackling other issues such as drug and alcohol use and better mental health.

To achieve this we would like to see:

  • Prison inmates tested every six months
  • More robust data on testing and treatment in prisons, with clear ownership, on which interventions work and which do not
  • A more refined pathway for testing and treatment – simpler and faster so that patients are less likely to fall away or not finish treatment
  • Consideration given to the establishment of a new operational delivery network (ODN) specifically for the prison estate
  • A concerted effort from everyone involved to tackle stigma and misinformation among both patients and prison staff
  • Support from individual prison governors as champions for the blood borne virus (BBV) testing and treatment programme
  • Engagement with prison health and drug strategy managers as well as prison governors in helping BBV services run smoothly
  • Better continuity, communication and cooperation between the courts, prisons and probation services to ensure that offenders have their hepatitis C or BBV medication with them when transferred between different settings

You can read the full report here