Self-testing kits for hepatitis C are being made available from the NHS in England from Saturday.
The free, private service is intended to help those who may not be able to access other resources or who might not feel comfortable approaching their general practitioner.
The potentially fatal disorder is characterised by symptoms that can go undiscovered for years but can develop to liver disease and cancer. It usually affects current or former drug users, as well as anyone who have come into contact with infected blood.
“As we celebrate 75 years of the NHS, I’m delighted we are on track to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030, which may rank among the most significant NHS successes in history, alongside mass vaccination against polio and diphtheria, organ transplants, and driving down smoking rates,” said NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis.
“As patient numbers get smaller and each remaining case becomes harder to find and cure, it’s vital we offer easy-to-access self-test kits — especially for those who have been exposed to the virus but may be reluctant to come forward.”
The tests, which can be ordered online, involve a sample of blood from a finger prick which is sent for analysis.
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