Inclusion Recovery took over the adult substance misuse service that runs across Hampshire in July. It started P2P (peer-to-peer) Hepatitis C Mentoring in partnership with The Hepatitis C Trust, where trained mentors deliver talks and presentations to peers and professionals with the aim of increasing awareness and testing for hepatitis C, interspersing volunteers’ own life experiences with key messages, risk factors and treatment options.
The P2P team has carried out 11 testing events where those identified at risk of HCV were offered an oral swab test to check for antibodies, with a £5 gift voucher incentive to the first 25 people tested at each event. To date 53 people have been diagnosed and 21 are being currently actively supported.
Hampshire has several areas with higher than average levels of deprivation, and research people living there are less likely to seek help and support, despite having increased healthcare needs. There is a high prevalence of HCV in Havant and increased risk in the New Forest with pockets of entrenched IV drug users sharing equipment – one infection can be tracked to eight new ones there, which shows that one test is not sufficient for people to assure themselves they have not contracted HCV and ongoing re-tests will be required.
An estimated 23,000 people in the South East Region have HCV, and part of the problem is awareness with many people undiagnosed. The Hepatitis C Trust ranked NHS Southampton General Hospital as sixth in the country for HCV hospital admissions in 2011-12.
To reduce NHS costs through earlier identification, support and treatment of HCV; to reduce onward transmission of the virus; and to improve the quality of life for those living with HCV through on-going one to one mentoring and peer support groups.
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