The latest statistics from Public Health Wales indicate a sustained rise in testing for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Welsh prisons. The figures were issued to coincide with the World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2019.
In November 2016, the Welsh Government introduced opt-out testing for blood-borne viruses across prisons in Wales. Since then, there has been a consistent growth in the number of individuals being tested in Welsh prisons. A total of 3888 prisoners were tested in 2018, accounting for 44.4 per cent of the prison population.
All prisons in Wales now have access to specialist treatment services, enabling prisoners to move from test to treatment without leaving the prison. Prisoners are considered to have an increased risk for HCV infection; hence, early diagnosis and treatment of incarcerated individuals is imperative to make a substantial contribution towards the elimination of HCV in Wales.
Dr Stephanie Perrett from Public Health Wales said: "Prison healthcare services in Wales have worked hard to improve the numbers of people being tested and the latest figures demonstrate this. There remain opportunities for improvement and we want to consider new approaches to embed testing in the prison setting."