Skip to main content

Hepatitis C eliminated in UK's biggest prison

Published: 19 March 2024

Public Health Wales has helped HMP Berwyn, the UK’s biggest prison, eliminate hepatitis C amongst its residents. 

This is the second time that a prison in Wales has eliminated hepatitis C, with the first prison being HMP Swansea in September 2019. 

Elimination of hepatitis C can be attributed to the rapid point of care testing (POCT) process, also known as near patient testing, which is offered to prisoners within a day of entering the prison. 

On site, prisoners are screened using a mouth swab test to detect their exposure to hepatitis C, with results attained in as quickly as 20 minutes. Those identified as being exposed then have a rapid finger-prick PCR test to determine if they have an active infection with results showing within 60 minutes. 

This rapid test and treat programme is highly effective and helps to make the prison a safer place. The programme is also beneficial to the wider society by dramatically reducing the burden of hepatitis C in the community. 

Louise Davies, the National Infectious Disease Point of Care Testing Lead for Public Health Wales said, “Achieving elimination in HM Prison, Berwyn has been a complete multidisciplinary team effort. Work will continue to maintain the micro-elimination status and meet the targets set by the Welsh government”. 

Lee Devereux, Southern England and Wales Prisons Manager for the Hepatitis C Trust said “When walking around the landings of HMP Berwyn the attitude towards hep C is positive and the stigma is virtually non-existent. Without the peers it would have not been achievable -HMP Berwyn is now one of the flagship prisons in the world for elimination of hepatitis C.” 

Liz Hurry BCUHB NHS Wales said "The team within HMP Berwyn was made up of pharmacists, nurses and Hepatitis C Trust peers, and also involved prisoner peers. HMP Berwyn is the UK's largest prison so presented unique challenges. The team has worked tirelessly over the past few years educating to raise awareness and reduce stigma, testing and treating using a streamlined pathway. We are very proud to be able to announce micro-elimination of hepatitis C within HMP Berwyn.”