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Leading health professionals, charities and services come together to eliminate hepatitis C in London

26.09.2017 – A group of 200 leading health professionals, charities and drugs and alcohol services, known as the London Joint Working Group on Substance Misuse and Hepatitis C (LJWG), are today coming together at the Livery Hall, Guildhall, to discuss plans to eliminate hepatitis C in London.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, Steve Brine MP, will address delegates about this critical public health issue at 9.35am and the full agenda for the day is here.

There are an estimated 41,500 people living with hepatitis C in London, many of whom are some of the most vulnerable and the most socially excluded in our society. Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus, that if left untreated, can cause liver cancer, liver failure and death. Crucially however, NICE-approved treatments can cure the virus in over 95% of patients.

Journalists are welcome to attend the conference. Please email: dee.cunniffe@ljwg.org.uk if you plan to attend.

Dr Suman Verma, Consultant Hepatologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and co-chair of the LJWG, said:

“We now have the tools to eliminate hepatitis C as a serious public health concern in the UK. One of the most effective ways we can do this, is to support people who inject drugs, by innovative implementation of free accessible testing and treatment at point of contact such as pharmacies. Research pilots will be set up to gain information as to how best to support those living with hepatitis C: to help recognise and manage it effectively and dispel potentially dangerous urban myths around the disease, which have hindered its eradication to date.”

“The current status quo is inadequate. A step change is needed at local and national level to improve testing and provide support pathways into treatment for this vulnerable population. If we do this, we will transform and save lives as well as preventing further virus transmissions.”

Dr Emily Finch, Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and co-chair of the LJWG said:

“A quarter of all those living with hepatitis C in England live here in London. We need to do much more to ensure all those infected, have access to potentially life-saving treatments. Around half of people who inject drugs in London have hepatitis C and those people are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society.

“By working together, London will become a global leader in addressing, and eventually eliminating hepatitis C as a public health issue.”