Increasing hepatitis B and C testing in the prison setting: The use of new diagnostics at HMP Manchester


Sep 2012 by Hepatitis C Trust
Hepatitis B and C pose a major challenge to public health in the UK. Up to half a million people have one or both of these viruses, which can cause liver failure and cancer, yet only a minority have been diagnosed. Prevalence is particularly high in the prison population; even conservative estimates suggest 8% of people in prison have hepatitis B and 7% hepatitis C. Current rates of testing are extremely low, however: less than 8% of prisoners will be screened for hepatitis C while in custody, and this is declining. The true prevalence of hepatitis B and C in English prisons today is therefore unknown but could be 20-40 times the national average. In June 2011 a collaborative pilot project was launched in HMP Manchester. This introduced two new diagnostic devices to evaluate whether offering a wider range could increase diagnoses in the prison and to assess the acceptability of these new devices in the prison setting. The devices included were point of care tests, testing for hepatitis C antibodies using an oral fluid swab and giving a result in 20 minutes, and dried blood spot tests, a finger prick test for hepatitis B and C, including RNA, with results returned within 2 weeks. This report describes the collaborative pilot project.
North West