Weston leading the battle against deadly virus

PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 January 2015

Medical doctor.

Medical doctor.

Archant

A DEADLY virus is on the way to being totally eradicated from Weston thanks to a leading treatment programme.

The town has been nationally recognised for its gold standard care for people suffering with hepatitis C.

Addaction North Somerset, the substance misuse charity based in the Boulevard, has hosted the innovative treatment programme.

The project has exceeded all expectations in its first year and is working so well it is on track to totally cure the town of the virus.

Weston MP John Penrose said: “The results from this new service, where most sufferers got tested and are getting the life-saving treatments they need, are really important.

“I’m proud and delighted Weston is showing the rest of the country the right way to fight and eliminate hepatitis C.”

Hepatitis C is a potentially fatal infection which can cause serious liver disease including cirrhosis, liver cancer and end-stage liver failure.

It is estimated that 752 people are living with chronic hepatitis C infection in North Somerset.

The ground-breaking programme has led to a significant increase in testing and treatment of those with a history of injecting drugs, a typically hard-to-reach population who suffer with the virus.

The scheme is led by Eric Hills, a viral hepatitis clinical specialist at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI).

Dr Hills said: “At the BRI there was a high ‘did not attend’ rate of around 50 per cent of patients from Weston, which raised concerns from local patient groups, drug treatment services and GPs, who felt that patients could not easily access treatment.

“These local stakeholders worked together with BRI and were able to secure funding from the local health authority to set up the service within Addaction. Many people who are referred to us are now on treatment, which is fantastic.”

The programme is such a success it could now be implemented across the South West.

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