A major step in eliminating Hepatitis C is being planned on the Isle of Wight by Hep C U Later, an NHS service dedicated to eliminating Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which affects and damages the liver. It is most commonly spread through blood-to-blood contact, such as sharing unsterilised needles. Sufferers may have no idea they are infected so regular testing and monitoring is very important.

Hep C U Later, a partnership between the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance and Gilead Sciences, which is working to eliminate Hepatitis C, has secured a grant to offer a new service to test, treat and cure people of Hep C. The new clinical outreach van service enables clinicians to reach patients not currently engaged with services and those who find it difficult to travel to existing locations.

The service is being launched on the Isle of Wight with a two day roadshow on 24 and 25 May which will visit locations across the island.  Hepatology teams from the University of Southampton and Isle of Wight, the Hepatitis C Trust and Inclusion Isle of Wight will travel across the island in the specially equipped clinical vans. Anyone wanting more information about how and where to access the service can contact mpft.wessexclinicalvan@nhs.net or call 07966 899327.

This initiative builds on the work of Dr Ryan Buchanan, Hepatology Research Fellow at St. Mary's Hospital and Dr Leonie Grellier, Consultant Gastroenterologist at St Mary’s Hospital who have already done much to reduce the incidence of Hepatitis C on the Isle of Wight. 

The roadshow aims to help address health inequalities with its pioneering approach and will enable people to be seen in familiar surroundings with additional support from their recovery workers, instead of travelling many miles to hospital.

New drugs have also been made available to treat Hepatitis C which are more effective, with a treatment time of between 8-12 weeks (opposed to 48 weeks) and fewer side effects than previous treatment.

Louise Hanford, South Coordinator, Hep C U Later said, “This is an exciting opportunity to test, treat and cure those at risk of Hepatitis C living on the Isle of Wight with the goal of Hepatitis C elimination for that community. There has never been a better time to be tested and through a multiagency approach, we will ensure everyone is offered testing, peer support and linkage to care."

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