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Hepatitis C micro-eliminated at HMP Berwyn thanks to rapid test and treat programme

Hepatitis C has virtually all but been eliminated from HMP Berwyn, the UK’s largest prison, following a joint initiative between Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), Public Health Wales and the charity Hepatitis C Trust.

In a recent programme, 100% of prisoners were offered a test, 90% of men were tested, and 90% of those diagnosed with hepatitis C started treatment. This is known as micro-elimination, meaning that within a particular environment, in this case HMP Berwyn, certain requirements for hepatitis C testing and treatment have been reached.

This was achieved through making testing routine, with prisoners being offered a rapid test within days of arriving at the prison, and treatment being quickly provided for those who need it.

Read more here about our Pioneering Hepatitis C project that helps vulnerable people in the community get tested and treated.

Pharmacist Elizabeth Hurry from BCUHB said: "HMP Berwyn is the UK's largest prison so presented unique challenges. The team has worked tirelessly over the past few years educating to raise awareness and reduce stigma, testing and treating using a streamlined pathway. We are very proud to be able to announce micro-elimination of hepatitis C within HMP Berwyn."

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus which affects the liver and is easily cured by 8-12 weeks of oral treatment which prevents future complications.

Lee Devereux, The Hepatitis C Trust Southern England and Wales Prisons Manager, said: “When walking around the landings of HMP Berwyn the attitude towards hepatitis C is positive and the stigma is virtually non-existent. Without the peers it would have not been achievable - HMP Berwyn is now one of the flagship prisons in the world for micro-elimination of hepatitis C.”

The team within HMP Berwyn was made up of a blood borne virus nurse, prescribing pharmacists and Hepatitis C Trust peers, and also involved prisoner peers. HMP Berwyn has managed to achieve and maintain micro-elimination for the past five months and met national targets ahead of schedule.

Louise Davies, National ID Point Of Care Testing Lead Public Health Wales, said: “Achieving this accomplishment in HMP Berwyn has been a complete multidisciplinary team effort and work will continue to maintain the micro-elimination status going forward so that the prison continues to meet the targets set by the Welsh government.”

The rapid test and treat programme is part of action plans from Welsh Government to micro-eliminate hepatitis C in the community and in all Welsh prisons.

A rapid hepatitis C test and treat programme was first introduced in BCUHB in community clinics in 2019. This became an award-winning outreach project which has helped over 170 people in North Wales, including those experiencing homelessness, to get treated for hepatitis C.