London Mayor Sadiq Khan visits The Hepatitis C Trust’s testing van

Ahead of World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan today visited The Hepatitis C Trust and King’s College NHS Foundation Trust’s testing van at the Manna Day Centre in Bermondsey.

The event, organised with the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C, was held at the Manna Centre due to the higher prevalence of hepatitis C among the homeless population. The Hepatitis C Trust supports the homeless community to engage with testing and treatment due to the additional barriers these individuals often face in accessing care.

Sadiq Khan said: ““If left untreated, the hepatitis C virus can be extremely damaging but, once diagnosed, it can be managed quickly and effectively, enabling patients to make a full recovery.

“This is why I’m urging all Londoners in high-risk groups or those who might be experiencing symptoms of hepatitis C to get tested.

“Every Londoner deserves access to quality healthcare and this testing van offers a way to reach some of our most vulnerable communities. Working in partnership across the capital we want to ensure nobody is left behind and to strive together to eliminate hepatitis C in London.”

Dr Helen Harris, Senior Scientist at Public Health England, said: “World Hepatitis Day gives us cause to celebrate the success of targeted interventions against hepatitis C. We have seen fewer people dying from the disease, and more people accessing new and effective, well tolerated oral therapies, which we hope will be boosted by the launch of the national patient re-engagement exercise. Yet, more needs to be done if we are to eliminate this disease as a major public health threat in England. Over a hundred thousand people in this country are thought to be living with this serious infection, and we know that significant numbers of them are unaware they are infected.

“Anyone who may be at risk of infection, in particular those who have ever injected drugs, even if they injected only once or in the past, should get tested. Given that new treatments provide a cure in around 95% of those who take them, there has never been a better time to get tested."

Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: “We are delighted that the Mayor chose to visit our testing van to raise awareness of hepatitis C and look forward to continuing to work closely together to achieve microelimination in London as part of the broader aim of eliminating hepatitis C in the UK by 2025.”