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Friday, 19 December 2014

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New hepatitis clinic in Carlisle city centre

A specialilst city centre clinic is being set up to help treat people with hepatitis.

Cherry Hughes, a hepatology specialist nurse at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, will begin clinics in Botchergate from January.

By working alongside the Unity Drug & Alcohol Recovery Service, she hopes that the weekly clinic will be more accessible for people who would like to start treatment or would like a discussion about it.

Treatment can be done at the clinic with no need to attend hospital.

Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through blood-to-blood contact and the most common way to contract the virus in the UK is by sharing equipment used to inject illegal drugs. However, this is not always the case and non-drug users can also contract the virus through contact with infected blood.

Cherry explained: “Hepatitis C is largely associated with drug use and therefore there is a stigma around it. Many patients do not attend appointments at the hospital because they are worried about how they may be judged.

“However, there are other causes and I would encourage anyone who has concerns to seek advice.”

She continued: “I have been looking at ways to improve attendance at appointments, so taking the clinic into the community is the ideal solution. This is an environment where people feel comfortable and well supported and the hope is that other service users will come forward for testing and treatment.”

Cate Meagher, manager of Unity in Carlisle, said: “This is a fabulous opportunity and we are very excited to work with Cherry and bring the two services together.

“Drug users are usually very difficult to engage with outside of a centre they are comfortable going to, so we are very optimistic that the clinic will increase uptake and improve outcomes for drug users.”

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