To increase the early detection of Hepatitis C infection (HCV) amongst previous and current injecting drug users in Nottingham City and County who have difficulty accessing or do not access venesection.
Drug workers will be trained to administer a Dried Blood Spot (DBS) finger prick test with intravenous drug users and provide pre- and post-test counselling. It is estimated that the provision of DBS would impact upon 4-6,000 people per annum across the East Midlands, with approximately 1,000 in the area covered by this project.
Benefits to Patients
Patients will no longer have to be referred to another service for venepuncture testing, as drug workers will be able to administer the DBS and pre- and post-test counselling in the community, leading to earlier detection rates and more timely treatment.
Estimated cost savings by preventing cirrhosis and decompensation lie between £10,000 - £50,000 per case.
The project expects to successfully treat between 10-20% of new cases, with clearance of the virus in more than 50%.
The project will also reduce duplicate testing. It is thought that 7-12% of patients attending a first HCV test have a prior sample in the laboratory system. These tests cost an average of £28 each.
"The Hepatitis C Trust are very pleased to be part of this innovative dry blood spot testing project. As a patient organisation we are all too aware of the barriers that many people face when accessing testing, and anything that makes this process simpler and less stressful can only be a good thing. We would really like to see more community based testing and would encourage others across the country to utilise the learning from the Nottinghamshire project to develop their own testing services."
Emma Ward, Project Manager, The Hepatitis C Trust
"Dried Blood Spot testing allows people at risk of Hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B and HIV to get a test done quickly and easily. The training to take a blood spot is straight forward and a wide range of staff can offer the test, which avoids the need for a venous blood sample. Dried blood spot testing should lead to earlier diagnosis, help people to get treatment sooner and help prevent further infections. There may also be significant savings to be made as dried blood samples can be safely sent in the post to laboratories best able to provide a high quality and cost-effective service."
Dr David Black, Director of Public Health, NHS Derbyshire County