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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together

Solihull Integrated Addiction Services work to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025

Published: 17/04/2023
Colleagues from the Solihull Integrated Addiction Services (SIAS) are working to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025.
Sarah and Ben at the 'Love Yourself, Get Tested' event
Sarah and Ben at the 'Love Yourself, Get Tested' event

Sarah Keeling, Non-Medical Prescriber and Ben Smith, SIAS Practitioner both work at SIAS, located in Marston Green. Together, the pair have tested nearly 70 people since last November in a bid to stomp out the blood-borne virus that affects 215,000 people in England alone.

Working with the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance, SIAS and many other organisations are well on track to effectively eliminate hepatitis C by 2025, five years earlier than the World Health Organisation’s goal of 2030.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which commonly affects the liver. If left untreated, it can cause potentially life-threatening damage to the liver and may also affect the digestive system, lymphatic system, immune system and brain. It is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, often through injecting drug use. It can also be transmitted through sharing crack pipes or bank notes and straws when sniffing cocaine. It is estimated that around half of people who inject drugs in England have, at some point, been infected with hepatitis C.

SIAS has been loaned a Cepheid testing machine through a national project, meaning they can diagnose a person with hepatitis C through a quick finger-prick blood test.

Speaking about the use of the Cepheid machine, Ben said:

“This has been a game changer. Using the Cepheid machine to maximum effect has helped to push towards the goal of eliminating hepatitis C. It has made a massive difference in SIAS and the local community.”

The SIAS team has worked hard to promote hepatitis C testing to their clients, holding a ‘Love Yourself, Get Tested’ event on Valentine’s Day and a ‘Spring Clean Your Health’ testing drive in March. People taking part have fully embraced the testing and also brought others at risk of the virus to be tested, due to their newfound awareness of hepatitis C. SIAS has also been able to engage those introduced to their service in opiate substitute treatment and support to manage their addiction.

SIAS is a partnership of organisations including Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT), Aquarius, Welcome, Changes UK, Urban Heard and it is commissioned by Solihull Council.

If you are a Solihull resident that is struggling with alcohol, drug or gambling addiction please visit their website or call 0121 301 4141.

Hep C
Cepheid testing machine