Haverigg Prison health care team have successfully screened and treated 99% of prisoners for the virus which can cause serious health complications if left untreated.
This means that Haverigg Prison is the first prison in the UK to achieve this outstanding healthcare accolade and the staff will continue to work hard to ensure all prisoners are tested regularly to keep their hepatitis C free status.
Hepatitis C is more common among people in prison than the general population and the body builds no immunity to the virus so people can keep catching it after treatment.
Zoë Potgieter, Head of Healthcare at HMP Haverigg for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement, all of the staff here have worked tirelessly to screen and treat patients to eliminate the virus from our prison.
“Hepatitis C can be caught again as the body doesn’t develop an immunity to it so it is vital to develop a micro-elimination of the virus to prevent it spreading again.
“It wasn’t without its challenges but this made us even more determined. We’re thrilled to be the first prison in the UK and will be sharing our knowledge across the country to help eliminate hepatitis C from the prison service”.
The hepatitis C virus is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact and can be spread through sharing razors or toothbrushes.
A blood test or finger prick test is needed to identify the virus and if detected a course of medications is prescribed. If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). Over time, this can lead to the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop. Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.