Drug users miss out on hepatitis treatment

Drug users are not getting treatment for the Hepatitus C virus because they are on “the bottom of the list” of health professional’s priorities, a leading expert said this week.

Professor Graham Foster, professor of hepatology at Queen Mary’s University College, told the parliamentary group on drug misuse that the virus was stigmatised as the “druggie’s disease.”

He warned that such attitudes would have “severe repercussions” for the next decade if people failed to get treatment.

There are currently around 300,000 cases of the virus, but Foster called this a “conservative” estimate.

He said: “If we continue at this rate, we will see a dramatic rise in end-stage liver disease.”

Foster said clearer guidance was needed from the department of health to make Hepatitus C treatment a priority.

Campaigners also expressed concern over the lack of treatment for the virus in prisons, and group chair Brian Iddon MP said he would raise the issue with health minister Caroline Flint and home office minister Fiona McTaggart.


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