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A team which provides drug and alcohol misuse services in Hampshire is celebrating recent recognition in the UKPHR Innovation in Public Health Awards which showcase innovative research, education and practice, as well as celebrating the work of leading public health researcher Allison Thorpe.

Louise Hansford, Hep C Elimination South Coordinator, for Hep C U Later was the winner of the Alison Thorpe Award which is aimed at public health professionals who have made a significant contribution to translating evidence into practice, spreading evidence of ‘what works’.

Louise has spearheaded an outreach project aimed at testing, treating and curing those affected by Hepatitis C in Andover, one of the most rural and deprived areas of Hampshire. 

Chronic Liver Disease is the 5th biggest killer in the UK and is the only major cause of death which is continuing to rise. It is estimated that in the UK 0.5% of the population are infected with Hepatitis C with 214,000 individuals affected. Hepatitis C-related end-stage liver disease is continuing to rise and a significant number of individuals remain undiagnosed and untreated.

Funding was secured and an onsite hepatology outreach clinic was set up saving patients a 78 mile round trip. With the help of people with their own experience of drug misuse and Hepatitis C, patients were helped to understand their condition and its consequences, and the high chances of being cured if they came forward for testing and treatment.  So far 160 patients have consented to be tested with 47 positive.  Of these 9 spontaneously cleared and 37 have been treated with micro elimination therefore being achieved.

Louse Hansford says “Enhancing research based practice is exceptionally rewarding.  Through passion, commitment and dedication, incredible outcomes can be achieved.  These are real people whose lives have been impacted. This is an excellent example of putting research into practice and using innovative solutions to address barriers”.

The team were also shortlisted in the Improving Public Health Practice category for their work with homeless people.  Making use of the Government’s response to homelessness during the Covid pandemic they worked with key partners to do targeted testing events such as in a car park in Gosport.  They also distributed Naloxone (a medication which blocks the effects of opioids which can be used in the case of an overdose), needle exchange equipment and foodbank vouchers and embraced the opportunity to engage with a usually disparate group which has historically been challenging to engage.

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