Hepatitis C



The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee is holding an inquiry into Hepatitis C to look at work being carried out with the aim of achieving elimination in Wales by 2030.


Hepatitis C is a virus carried in the blood that causes liver inflammation and can lead to long term liver damage. The virus is spread when the blood of an infected person gets into the bloodstream of another person.

The main way Hepatitis C is spread in the UK is through drug use, by the sharing of needles. Body piercing or tattooing using unsterilised needles can also spread the virus. Rarely, it is spread through sexual contact or from mother to baby before or during birth. Other people at a higher risk of acquiring Hepatitis C include those who come into contact with blood, such as healthcare workers and prison officers and people who received a blood transfusion before 1991 in the UK or in countries that do not screen donated blood for the virus. Since 1991, all blood donated in the UK is screened for the Hepatitis C virus.

About one in five infected people will clear the virus from their bodies naturally within the first six months of infection. For the remainder, Hepatitis C becomes a chronic infection.

For these people, the outcome of infection is extremely variable. Many people never develop any signs or symptoms of liver disease and may not even know they have been infected. However, about 20 per cent will develop cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver within 10-30 years, which can lead to liver failure. Chronic Hepatitis C is also associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. New medications are seen to have ‘revolutionised’ the treatment of Hepatitis C so that it is now curable in around 9 out of 10 people if treated early. The new tablet treatments are more effective and have far fewer side-effects and treatment takes eight to 12 weeks. Even if treatment does not clear the virus, it can still slow down inflammation and liver damage.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the inquiry are to look at:

  • The action being taken to meet the requirements of the Welsh Health Circular (WHC/2017/048) published in October 2017 and subsequently meet the World Health Organization target to eliminate Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C as significant public health threats by 2030.
  • How the knowledge and awareness of the public and health professionals of the Hepatitis C virus can be increased.
  • The scope to increase community-based activity e.g. the role of community pharmacies.
  • The long-term viability of treatment programmes.


Evidence sessions


Evidence session

Date, Agenda and Minutes



1. Hepatitis C Trust

Rachel Halford, Chief Executive, Hepatitis C Trust.

Stuart Smith, Director of Community Services, Hepatitis C Trust.

Aidan Rylatt, Policy and Parliamentary Adviser, Hepatitis C Trust.

17 January 2019

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2. Royal College of General Practitioners and Royal College of Nursing

Dr Mair Hopkin, Joint Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners.

Dr Peter Saul, Joint Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners.

Delyth Tomkinson, Clinical Specialist Nurse Hepatology, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Lisa Turnbull, Policy and Public Affairs Adviser, Royal College of Nursing Wales.

17 January 2019

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3. The Blood Borne Viruses Network

Dr Brendan Healy, Chair of the Blood Borne Viruses Network, Consultant in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, National Lead for Hepatitis.

Dr Ruth Alcolado, Deputy Medical Director, Cwm Taf University Health Board.

Gavin Hardcastle, Hepatitis Clinical Nurse Specialist, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Dr Chinlye Ch’ng, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

17 January 2019

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4. Public Health Wales

Dr Giri Shankar, Lead Consultant for Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control, Public Health Wales

Dr Jane Salmon, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health Wales

Dr Stephanie Perrett, Lead Nurse for Health and Justice, Health Protection Programmes, Public Health Wales

17 January 2019

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Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Assembly Business;

Status: For consideration

First published: 17/12/2018





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