The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Peter Baillie, has thrown his support behind a new push in the city to encourage those at risk of Hepatitis C to get tested and treated.
In an attempt to raise awareness for the disease, with which approximately 215,000 Britons live, The Right Worshipful Mayor took the spot test himself. The dried blood spot test, which involves close analysis of a few drops of blood on filter paper, has the ability not only to accurately test for Hepatitis C but also the Hepatitis B virus and HIV.
The Southampton team, who act to support those whose results come back positive, are also working with the sexual health services organised by Solent NHS Trust to help to treat HIV.
Speaking at Pharmacy Direct in Bitterne, the Mayor commented, ‘I am very proud to do my bit to add my support for this innovative campaign to eliminate hepatitis C by encouraging people in Southampton to get tested in pharmacies. Many people carrying hepatitis C won’t necessarily know they have got it, so are at risk of passing it on to others. Testing and treatment are really easy – just a finger prick blood test and tablets, so I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be at risk by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person to take the test‘.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which is the research branch of the NHS, has provided funding to enable the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Solent NHS Trust, the University of Southampton, and Southampton City Council to set up testing points at local pharmacies. Participating pharmacies are:
- Bassil Chemist at 55A Bedford Place
- Sanga Pharmacy at 48 Thornhill Park Rd
- Regent’s Park Pharmacy at 61 Regents Park Rd.
Dr Charlotte Cook, who is also supporting the move, said, ‘[o]ne of the big challenges of this work has been to find people who carry the virus. Having the test in a pharmacy is more accessible than booking an appointment with a GP or going to a hospital. The treatment of hepatitis C is now much easier to take as it can be given as just one pill a day for a few months. It is now within our reach to eliminate the virus from the City of Southampton‘.
Those at high risk of Hepatitis C are encouraged to attend on of these testing points. Those at highest risk include those who:
•Have injected drugs, including steroids, even once.
•Have had a tattoo, piercing or acupuncture in unregistered premises or with possibly unsterile equipment.
•Have received a blood transfusion or blood products prior to 1991.
•Were born or received medical procedures in a high risk area (Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa).
•Have pricked themselves on a needle or sharp object that has been used on someone else.
•Have had unprotected sex with anyone who is known to have HIV, hepatitis B or C or might have been at risk for any of the reasons listed above.
•Have regularly shared razors or toothbrushes with anyone who is known to have hepatitis B or C or might have been at risk for any of the reasons listed above.