With help from St George’s, a Richmond drug service has become the first in England to achieve ‘micro elimination’ of hepatitis C.

The most common route for transmission of hepatitis C in the UK is through intravenous drug use, but treatment within a hospital setting can prove challenging for people with drug or alcohol addiction.

This is why the St George’s Viral Hepatitis Team delivers most of its clinics in local community settings – one of these is the Richmond Integrated Recovery Service, which supports people who use drugs.

To treat these service users, Dr Daniel Forton, Consultant Hepatologist, and Lead Nurse for Viral Hepatitis, Beverly Edwards (both from St George’s) joined forces with the drug service’s lead nurse to set up a clinic there.

This onsite clinic is one of the first of its kind, and began in May 2018. Since then, 164 people have been tested for hepatitis C, with 29 being found to need treatment.

The team then used a method of capillary blood testing championed by St George’s which is quick and non-invasive, a huge bonus for the patients. This onsite service virtually removed the need for people to be seen in hospital.

More patients were diagnosed, and everyone who needed treatment and remained engaged with the recovery service was successfully treated for their hepatitis C. Only one patient re-located, and continued their treatment with a different Trust.

Beverly said: “The shared goal of our two organisations is to help eliminate hepatitis C. We are thrilled to have helped successfully eliminate the virus from users of Richmond Integrated Recovery Service.

“Micro elimination targets particular populations, and has the potential to break down the barriers that makes traditional testing and treatment difficult.”