NHS hepatitis C antibody testing guidance for community pharmacy
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an infectious, blood-borne virus that affects the liver and is predominately transmitted by contact with infected blood. In the UK, those at highest risk of contracting HCV are people who inject drugs, i.e., any individual who injects illicit drugs, e.g. steroids or heroin, but who hasn’t yet moved to the point of accepting treatment for their substance use.
National data demonstrate that this patient group accounts for 90% of all new HCV infections. Of those infected with HCV, 70–90% do not clear the virus and go on to develop chronic hepatitis C infection. Of these, 10–20% progress to cirrhosis within 20 years and the associated sequalae of liver failure, death (20–25% of patients) and hepatocellular carcinoma (1–5%).