New Lothian group marks World Hepatitis C Day

The newly-formed Hepatitis C Managed Care Network brings together health experts, the Scottish Prison Service, local authority, and voluntary groups working with people vulnerable to the blood-borne virus to help prevent further infections, get more people tested, and increase numbers of people being treated.

Dr Ewen Stewart, lead clinician, NHS Lothian's Hep C Managed Care Network, said:
"May 19th is World Hepatitis C Day and we want to use this platform to raise awareness of this disease, which is acquired by 200 new people a year in Lothian.
"Hep C is a preventable disease but we are concerned that some people are still not protecting themselves from a disease which can cause substantial damage to the liver.
"In particular, we're aware that some drug users who inject drugs are still sharing injecting equipment, leaving themselves vulnerable to this disease. By working with voluntary groups, the Scottish Prison Service, local authorities, and people with drug issues, we hope to reduce the number of new cases in Lothian, as well as increase treatment available to those who are affected."

World Hepatitis C Day is organised by the World Hepatitis Alliance, an international public health non-governmental organisation.

Managed Care Networks (MCNs) are recognised as a way for the health service to improve treatment and education for patients. NHS Lothian has a number of award-winning Managed Clinical Networks already in place for diseases or conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Around 90% of people with Hepatitis C in Lothian acquired the disease from sharing drug-injecting equipment. It's thought that many people with Hepatitis C are unaware of their condition, and one of the additional aims of the MCN is to increase the number of tests taking place for the disease.