We’re thrilled to announce that our Harrow service has successfully reached the impressive milestone of Hepatitis C micro-elimination!
NHS England has a target to eliminate the virus by 2025 and Via services are aiming to do this in their local areas by the end of 2023.
Hep C is a blood borne virus which, left untreated, can cause liver cancer and liver failure. It usually displays no symptoms until the virus damages the liver enough to cause liver disease. People who inject drugs are at the highest risk of becoming infected.
As of November 2023, our team in Harrow has reached the following targets with the people who use their service:
- 100% of those in treatment have been offered a Hep C test
- 100% of people who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested for Hep C
- 90% of individuals who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested in the last 12 months
- 90% of people who were diagnosed with Hep C at the service have started treatment
By meeting these targets, we’re proud to report that Via – Harrow has formally achieved Hep C micro-elimination!
This is Via’s first service to reach micro-elimination, and the third West London service and the sixth London borough to reach this incredible milestone.
In partnership with Gilead Sciences, staff and volunteers at all our Via services have been working tirelessly to promote testing and treatment with the people they work with, on their journey to micro-eliminate Hep C, and we hope to be able to announce more micro-elimination wins soon!
Oasis Azeez-Harris, Senior Public Health Commissioner for Sexual Health and Substance Misuse from Harrow Council said: “Congratulations to the Via Harrow staff team for working hard to achieve the micro-elimination of the Hep C Virus through a substance misuse service, this is a huge achievement to be celebrated as we, as a system work towards World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ambition to eliminate viral Hepatitis by 2030. It is wonderful to see Via Harrow leading the way, being a beacon for others to learn from. This would not be possible without Via Harrow’s close working arrangements with other stakeholders, for example the Hep C Trust amongst others – this shows that joint work leads to better outcomes of people using services on their recovery journey. Well done Via Harrow staff team – keep up the fantastic work to maintain and exceed this success for Harrow residents using your services!”
Prof Ashley Brown, Clinical Lead at West London HCV Operational Delivery Network said: “Another milestone has been reached in our aim to eliminate Hepatitis C with the announcement that Harrow drug services have achieved their micro-elimination targets. Huge congratulations and thanks go to the team at Via working in collaboration with the clinical nurse specialists from Northwick Park Hospital, peers from the Hep C Trust, and the clients within the service in bringing this about”.
Anna Whitton, CEO at Via said: “This is a really positive and important outcome, which has made a tangible difference to many people. Our team has worked hard to make Hep C information, testing and treatment as easy to access as possible and we are really proud of this achievement.”
Vanessa Duke, Area Director at Via said: “Access to testing, treatment and ongoing recovery focused care is so important to our service users and everyone in the Via Harrow service is 100% committed to providing that! I am so proud of the team in Harrow for all of their hard work in achieving Hep C micro-elimination, this is a great outcome for our service users and for the community as a whole. The success we have seen in Harrow is not wholly down to Via, we are so thankful to the local ODN (operational delivery network) and our colleagues from Northwick Park Hospital who deliver clinics from our service, providing access to Hep C treatment in a place where our service users feel safe. Breaking down the barrier of having to attend another clinic or the local hospital has been key to supporting people to commence and complete Hep C treatment.”
Allen Quine, Service Manager at Via Harrow said: “We’re really proud to have achieved micro-elimination in Harrow; the team have worked hard for this and excellent communication has helped us hit our goal. We’ve worked closely with our local Infectious Diseases Team for a long time and this was a great starting point for us. Adding in very proactive input and support from the Hep C Trust, our data team and Marlon (our Hep C Lead) has been fantastic. Communication and co-ordination have been absolutely key – from identifying where (and who) to focus and following this through with that larger team’s involvement up to and including outreach. I like to see the public health implications in a simplistic way. The health impacts of Hep C can be terrible with a big social impact. If no one had Hep C, there wouldn’t be anyone who can pass it on. I am pleased to say that by achieving micro-elimination, this multi-disciplinary team have brought Harrow closer to that new reality.”
Dr. Vivienne Gosnell, Clinical Lead at Via Harrow said: “Achieving micro-elimination in Harrow has very much been a joint effort. The crux was having reliable, up-to-date data, shared regularly with our team, so that opportunities to test wouldn’t be missed. We worked closely with Northwick Park Hospital infectious diseases unit and The Hepatitis C Trust to host in-service Hep C clinics. Our infectious diseases nurse worked flexibly with those service users who were reluctant to engage, and our Hepatitis C Trust mentors provided fantastic support, taking medication to service users, and providing testing at home. In addition, we co-ordinated testing drives in the service and in partnership with University College London Find & Treat Community Van, where incentives like vouchers, Via’s Capital Card reward scheme and pop-up shop events were used. Successful Hepatitis C treatment not only prevents long term health complications such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer for those affected, but also stops transmission to others. We want to thank everybody involved for their hard work and dedication in achieving this goal.”
Faye Martin, Peer Lead, The Hep C Trust said: “Collaborating closely with Marlon, the Hep C Coordinator at Via, has significantly enhanced my effectiveness in my role as the West London Peer Lead. Together, we’ve successfully conducted joint training sessions on Hep C awareness and skilfully guided Via Recovery Practitioners in performing dry blood spot tests (DBST) for service users. Our partnership has not only contributed to the positive well-being of Harrow service users but also played a crucial role in supporting them throughout their treatment journey. As a testament to our joint efforts, we’ve successfully achieved micro-elimination of Hepatitis C in Harrow, marking a milestone in our commitment to improving healthcare outcomes.”
Marlon Freeman, Hepatitis C Coordinator at Via said: “Via – Harrow through a remarkable journey has reached Hepatitis C micro-elimination and is Via’s first service to do so. This success story is a testament to the unwavering commitment to improving health in our boroughs, particularly among a community battling substance misuse. Via Harrow’s achievements stand as a symbol of transformation, proving that through compassion, resilience, and innovative solutions, we can pave the way for a healthier and more equitable future for all free of Hepatitis C.”
Via is delighted by the enlightened approach of the authorities in Glasgow in giving the official go-ahead for the UK’s first safe drug consumption room.
There’s a misconception that a harm minimisation policy leads to condoning the use of illicit drugs – but the evidence from across Europe and Canada is to the contrary.
Such services reduce accidental overdose deaths and help by linking individuals to structured treatment with all the associated benefits.
Their introduction is a measured and incremental response to the present drug death crisis and will facilitate and enhance the effectiveness of other interventions. Consumption rooms are one component of a multifaceted toolkit, which could save many lives.
Chair of Via, Yasmin Batliwala MBE, states that “This is an important step in the right direction and Via supports it and its adoption across the UK”.
Additionally, Executive Medical Director at Via, Dr Yasir Abbasi, states that “Safe consumption rooms are tried and tested in many other countries and has evidence to support that they minimise harm and reduce morbidity and mortality. Well done, Glasgow!”