The BBV Champions Model an Innovative Tool for HCV Testing in Hard to Reach Communities


Built on a concept developed in rural Africa, the BBV Champions is a model to address the shortfall in detection on Hepatitis C in the UK – using local available resources to raise awareness, offer testing, provide provisional results and support service users into the treatment pathway.

It has had a significant impact in Reading, Berkshire, in increasing uptake of testing in two high prevalence communities: substance misusers and the local Pakistani population. BBV Champions provides an effective structure to identify significantly more people infected by HCV and to guide them into treatment services which will have an impact on future infection rates and a reduction in advanced liver disease associated with late diagnosis and limited monitoring. 


The majority of people infected by HCV in the UK come from ‘hard to reach’ communities.  The main focus on  testing  is  around  people  who  use  drugs - and  while  the majority  of  new  infections  in  the  UK  are through this route, it does not reflect the profile of patients seen in viral hepatitis clinics requiring treatment. Many patients  are  diagnosed  only  after  presenting  to  their  GPs  with  deranged  liver  function  tests suggesting  that  harm  has  already  been  done  to  the  liver. National Treatment Agency (NTA) guidelines recommend that all service users engaged with substance misuse services be tested for HIV and HCV annually – but in Reading, with only one BBV nurse (relying on venous blood samples ELISA tested at the local hospital), this was an unattainable task.  


There were various objectives, including to identify local communities likely to be affected by HCV, to explore and identify resources in the local community that might support a testing programme and to  develop  a  robust  structure  - from  sourcing  key  workers  to  clarifying  a  pathway  to  clinical treatment services, and to identify stakeholders and get them on board, offering training. It was also important to raise  awareness  of  HCV  in  a  constructive  and  enlightened  way,  avoiding  the  risk  of  stigmatising communities.

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QiC Hepatitis C Winner 2015
Best diagnosis & testing programme
The BBV Champions Model an innovative tool for HCV testing in hard to reach communities
by Royal Berkshire Hospital


Dean Linzey

Job title:
Nurse Consultant Viral Hepatitis
Place of work:
Royal Berkshire Hospital, Dept Gastroenterology, Royal Berks NHS Foundation Trust, London Road, Reading RG1 5AN
07783 950518

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