An innovative healthcare collaboration launched last week, hoping to improve the health of North East prisoners with hepatitis C (HCV). The joint project was officially introduced during an event on Tuesday 26th July at Redworth Hall Hotel in County Durham, ahead of World Hepatitis Day (28th July).
As part of the NHS England HCV Elimination Programme, Spectrum has teamed up with Gilead Sciences for the ‘BBV Prison Project’. The aim of the project is to improve blood borne virus (BBV) care pathways for patients in Spectrum’s North East prisons.
Hepatitis, one of the main BBVs, is a disease that affects the liver. The prevalence of hepatitis C in prisons is at around 6% – compared to just 0.7% of adults in the community. There is an even higher prevalence in female prisons, at approximately 15-20%.
Since 2015, NHS England’s Elimination Programme has worked tirelessly with partners in the government, charitable and pharmaceutical sectors to help eliminate hepatitis C before the World Health Organisation (WHO) goal date of 2030.
The event at Redworth Hall included guest speakers such as Mark Gillyon-Powell, Head of Programme (HCV Elimination, NHSE) and Lee Christensen, National Prison Partnership HITT Manager at The Hepatitis C Trust.
The initial focus of the project will be to increase awareness of BBVs and to reduce stigma amongst prisoners. Members of the project will also work with prison healthcare teams to increase the uptake of BBV testing during prison reception.
Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company focusing on research and development of antiviral drugs used in the treatment of diseases, such as hepatitis C.
Helping to lead the project, Dr Andrew J Milner (Senior Medical Scientist at Gilead Sciences) said, “The project launch was a fantastic opportunity for Spectrum and Gilead Sciences to share how they will be collaborating to micro-eliminate hepatitis C from prisons. The speakers were great and so was the audience, who engaged with the interactive sessions with enthusiasm, sharing their knowledge, insights and best practice. Hopefully this meeting will build upon the great work that Spectrum is already doing regarding the national elimination of HCV. A huge thank you to all who participated!”