Complete viral Hepatitis care opens in central Croydon for the first time, bringing convenient treatment to thousands of residents
Croydon University Hospital is providing complete viral Hepatitis treatment for the first time so that Croydon’s residents do not have to go outside the borough for treatment.
About 4,000 Croydon Residents have viral Hepatitis, which is higher than the national average. Many need treatment to be as convenient as possible because of the complexities associated with their infections.
The extent of Croydon’s challenge became apparent because GPs have been testing patients more often. Tests are also now given in prison services, pharmacies and drug addiction services.
Hepatitis attacks the liver, can cause many health problems and is sometimes fatal if untreated.
Dr Zinu Philipose, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, led on the establishment of this new service and expects it to significantly improve treatment rates. Successful cures for Hepatitis C in particular have become available on the NHS, which should further encourage people to seek and maintain treatment.
The use of needles for recreational drug use accounts for more than half of all Croydon cases of Hepatitis C. The service’s convenience in the heart of Croydon is ideal for all patients and especially those vulnerable and trapped in a cycle of drug abuse.
Hepatitis B can affect up to one-in-ten people particularly in a non-UK setting and can be passed down through generations, so it is not uncommon among some of Croydon’s ethnically diverse communities. The Trust’s translation services, which offer professional interpreters and Language Line facilities, will be provided at the hepatitis clinics.
The service is a big step in the broader borough-wide project to improve care of liver disease, which is the fifth ‘big killer’ in England and Wales and is the only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year. Viral Hepatitis is the second-biggest cause of liver disease (the first being alcohol overuse). Fortunately, successful treatment and monitoring of viral Hepatitis can help prevent its progression to liver failure/cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Dr Zinu Philipose, said:
“Hepatitis can linger for generations. It often remains hidden and untreated in Croydon, England and throughout the globe – often ending up with the burden of liver damage and its complications including fatal outcomes.
“Our new service means treatment is available on the doorstep of thousands of people who can benefit. We’ve made it as convenient as possible to help people who need care but whose lives may be complicated by drug addiction or other challenges.
“If you feel unwell and your GP says you may have one of these forms of Hepatitis, we are here to help and will give you treatment in confidence. It is quick, safe and very effective.”
Prevalence of the three types in Croydon:
- About 2,500 Croydon residents are estimated to have Hepatitis C, which is the most common type of the disease. Needle-sharing accounts for more than half of these cases in Croydon.
- A further 1,500 are estimated to have Hepatitis B, which is also quite common. People who originate overseas account for almost all of the approximate 50 new reports of Hepatitis B in Croydon each year (compared to 3,500 across London), as it is relatively common in some countries. About 1.3% of pregnant women in Croydon test positive for it.
- Hepatitis A is very rare in Croydon.
Background on Hepatitis types:
- Hepatitis is a term for inflammation of the liver and can cause a wide range of symptoms. It can also frequently lead to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer.
- Hepatitis C is the most common type of hepatitis virus in England. Although it is different to Hepatitis B, it too is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person such as by sharing needles for drug use.
- Hepatitis B is a virus that is much more common outside England than in it. It is spread in the blood of an infection person, so will pass from a pregnant mother to her child and through activity such as sex, tattooing and even contaminated toothbrushes. It is frequently carried as a long-term health problem in areas including Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. For example in Vietnam 9% of the population carry it.
- Hepatitis A is a virus and is rare in England because it requires poor sanitation and food hygiene.