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Care UK prisons get active this World Hepatitis Day

July 28 2020

For World Hepatitis Day, Care UK prison colleagues and patients are getting active to support worldwide hepatitis C elimination.

Together with partners from The Hepatitis C Trust, prison healthcare colleagues and patients are collectively climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest; a total of 8,848 metres.

Care UK colleagues and patients will be recording the total number of metres they walk, run and climb to raise money for the Hepatitis C Trust and the mental health charity, Mind. Some colleagues are even taking part in socially distanced climbs at local peaks and mountains throughout the country, organised by the Hepatitis C Trust.

As well as using this challenge to encourage patients to be physically active, prison healthcare colleagues are also using this challenge as an opportunity to raise awareness and educate patients around the importance of knowing their hepatitis status and accessing treatment.

World Hepatitis Day is an important awareness day for prison colleagues and patients as Care UK are currently helping to contribute towards the World Health Organisation’s aim of worldwide hepatitis elimination by 2030. Care UK’s ongoing project involves testing everyone who enters prison for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV, as well as regularly undertaking High Intensity Test and Treat (HITT) sessions at prisons. These sessions involve testing every patient in prison for hepatitis in a short time frame to help eliminate hepatitis from the prison population. Care UK’s blood-borne virus (BBV) teams and peers from the Hepatitis C Trust then support those patients with positive results through their treatment and recovery.

Care UK’s Deputy Medical Director, Dr Iain Brew, said: “World Hepatitis Day is an important day for our prison colleagues and patients. I lead on Care UK’s BBV project so I’m extremely proud of our sites for taking part and walking, running and climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest. Not only are we raising money for two worthy charities, we’re using this day as an opportunity to raise awareness and educate patients about hepatitis. We’ve created activity packs for patients to learn more about the facts and myths about hepatitis and we’re displaying educational material on prison TVs. This day will get colleagues and patients talking about the importance of knowing their hepatitis status and accessing treatment.”

It is estimated that 143,000 people in the UK are living with hepatitis C, a BBV which can cause serious and even fatal damage to the liver if left untreated, among other health impacts. Despite this, around two-thirds of those with hepatitis C are living with an undiagnosed infection. The most common route of transmission is through sharing equipment for injecting drugs. Other risk factors include receiving medical and dental care in countries with poor sterilisation practices, tattooing in unlicensed premises, sexual activity involving blood-to-blood contact, and having received a blood transfusion or blood products through the NHS prior to 1991.