Waverley Care, Scotland's HIV and Hepatitis C charity, has unveiled an ambitious new project targeting Hepatitis C support to prisoners in HMP Barlinnie.
Almost one in five people in Scotland's prison population are thought to be living with Hepatitis C and, while individuals can access treatment in prison, many become lost to follow up care following liberation.
Waverley Care's new Prison Link project, funded by pharmaceutical firm, AbbVie, will work directly with individuals approaching the end of their sentence, helping them to plan for life back in the community – including continuing access to treatment.
Support will also be provided to help prisoners address issues like recovery from drug use, which in many cases will be a factor in both their Hepatitis C diagnosis and their detainment, helping to reduce re-offending.
Claire Fuller, Community Projects Manager for Waverley Care in Glasgow, said:
"The feedback we've had in recent years from service users who've spent time in prison is that the transition back in to the community can be hugely challenging.
"Suddenly issues like housing and making ends meet take priority over managing their Hepatitis C and they fall away from the services that can help. When that happens, it can be all too easy for people to fall back into old habits and re-offending is common.
"Through this project, we want to step in a stage earlier to break that cycle. By working with prisoners before they're released and then providing support in the community, we can help them to focus on sticking to treatment, clearing Hepatitis C and moving forwards with their lives.
"It is an innovative approach that we believe will support individuals, contribute to the overall reduction of new cases of Hepatitis C in Scotland and tackle reoffending."
Picture taken at HMP Barlinnie with Glasgow Community Projects Manager, Claire Fuller, and Prison Link Worker, Billy Davidson from Waverley Care
Mary Mitchell, partnerships clinical manager, Glasgow City Health & Social Care Partnership, said:
"This is an excellent opportunity for patients to remain in contact and receive ongoing support with services upon liberation from prison. It will give healthcare staff valuable opportunities to offer treatments for blood borne viruses to a normally hard to reach population. Healthcare staff are looking forward to working with Waverley Care in this project."
About Waverley Care
Waverley Care is Scotland's HIV and Hepatitis C charity. These conditions continue to disproportionately affect some of Scotland's most marginalised communities. Through our work, we are helping to challenge stigma and tackle the inequalities that these groups face in order to reduce new HIV and Hepatitis C infections, encourage people to get tested and provide much needed support.
Hepatitis C in Prison
The Scottish Government's Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework identifies a number of issues related to Hepatitis C in prisons. The framework:
•Commits the Scottish Government to working with NHS Boards and the Scottish Prison Service to introduce opt-out testing for Hepatitis C for all new prisoners in Scotland – introduced in HMP Barlinnie in 2015
•Cites studies suggesting that Hepatitis C prevalence among prisoners is estimated at 19%
•Notes the availability of easy-to-administer, safe, highly effective treatment and sets an ambition to deliver Hepatitis C therapy in community settings, including prisons specifically
Want to learn more about the project?
Communications Officer - Waverley Care
0131 556 9710 | Email
Senior Media Relations Officer – NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
0141 201 4432 | Email