It’s estimated that 43,500 people are living with the now curable blood borne virus in London - among the highest prevalence in England - with 40% failing to access treatment support.1 Already, great work has been done to treat 2,500 people in the last year,2 but we still need to improve links to healthcare in local communities that can reach those most at risk.
Among those who inject drugs, or have previously injected, almost 50% have hepatitis C - a figure that sadly has remained mostly unchanged for the past 10 years.3 For over 50 years, we’ve been able to provide open access drug support services to thousands of people across London. We’re now working closely with The Hepatitis C Trust and other service providers, like Addaction and CGL, to deliver hepatitis C interventions within drug service settings across the UK.
Our ability to eliminate hepatitis C will ultimately be limited by our capacity to find and treat those who remain undiagnosed, and to help those who are diagnosed engage with treatment support. This can only be done if we have a local focus on the wider social issues that are impacting the lives of people most at risk.
Chairing a roundtable on World Hepatitis Day (28 July), I was able to address local healthcare professionals, and representatives from the London Assembly, Public Health England and the charity and voluntary sector, to agree on the following priorities for eliminating hepatitis C in London: