Introduction To evaluate the use of non-medical volunteers to lead community based testing for Hepatitis C in the Pakistani population in Reading, Berkshire, England. Berkshire is a county bordering Greater London with one of the largest Pakistani populations in the UK after London and Birmingham. The Royal Berkshire hospital serves a population of around 600,000 people.
Method Four female community volunteers from the local Pakistani community were trained to deliver point of care testing for Hepatitis C using oral swabs. they operated within a strict protocol with clear governance, support and training. Individuals for testing self-referred following community based awareness events. Reactive results were followed up with confirmatory PCR tests by the Viral Hepatitis Nurse Consultant and then treated in the Viral Hepatitis clinic at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
Results In 18 months the volunteers performed 300 oral tests. 8 tests (2.6%) were reactive for Hepatitis C. Of these 1 (12.5%) returned to Pakistan and was lost to follow up. 1 (12.5%) had spontaneously cleared the virus. The remaining 6 (75%) were initiated on anti-viral treatment. At the time of submission 4 patients (50%) had achieved SVR and the remainder were still on treatment.
Conclusion There is a recognised higher prevalence of Hepatitis C in the Pakistani population. This group are often regarded as “hard to reach” resulting in late diagnosis and a morbidity associated with this. This project demonstrates the value of community volunteers in identifying patients for treatment who would not normally have presented for testing.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.
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