How Effective Have Harm Minimisation Interventions Been in Reduction of Hepatitis C

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Submitted By Tenjy2
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How effective have harm reduction interventions been in reduction of Hepatitis C incidence among Injecting Drug Users in the UK?

1.0 Introduction
The prevalence of Hepatitis C (HCV) internationally is largely unknown mainly due to the fact that most individuals have no symptoms in the early stages of the infection. The WHO estimates the figure at 170 million people infected with HCV and it is estimated that approximately 3-4 million people are newly infected each year . Injecting drug users (IDUs) are at greatest risk from HCV through the sharing of injecting paraphernalia.

In the UK estimates from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) data has the number of people chronically infected with HCV at 216000 of which 90% are attributable to IDUs with over 40% of the IDU population being HCV antibody positive . Some estimates of numbers with HCV in the UK suggest about 500000 .

In 2010, new HCV infections diagnosed in the UK was 10,381 of which there were 7384, 106, 2129, and 312 in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales respectively . There appears to be higher rate of transmission among IDU now than a decade ago; 23% compared to 12% in 2000
Although UK is classified as a low prevalence country for HCV; The HCV poses numerous challenges for public health in terms of potentially preventable mortality and morbidity. According to NICE guidance, it would cost the NHS about £1.6 billion to treat all Hepatitis C patients. The cost therefore of failing to diagnose and treat existing patients could be approximately £4-£8 billion over the next decade

As the most infected in the UK are IDUs, the strategy is to target this risk group by making them more aware, offering proactive testing to ensure that those who are undiagnosed are and get necessary treatment early. It is essential to have in place robust surveillance systems and in the UK the harm…...

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