Trials and tribulations of hepatitis C treatment in Lothian prisons

Fiona Rose and Sara Lamond
Regional Infectious Diseases Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

Abstract
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that can cause both acute and chronic infection. In Scotland, it is well known that the main transmission route of HCV is through drug use and a study into prevalence of HCV in Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMPs) in Scotland showed that 53% of intravenous drug users (IVDU) tested were antibody positive [1]. The aim of HCV treatment is to reduce the risk of progression to cirrhosis, lessen the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, reduce/clear infectivity and improve the quality of life [2]. Involving non-medical prescribers in the treatment of hepatitis C in prisons has contributed to a more seamless and timely patient pathway, avoiding delays from the onset of symptoms to the issuing of an appropriate medication if indicated.
Key words: hepatitis C, drug users, substance abuse, prisons, protease inhibitors