(L-R): Greymouth Probation Officer Hayley Thomas does a quick fingerprick Hepatitis screening test with Nurse Gina Vente-Smith.A health initiative aimed at eradicating Hepatitis C in the community is well underway with a new mobile screening service. Canterbury/West Coast Te Whatu Ora Hepatitis C Mobile Service nurses Judith McLaughlin and Gina Vente-Smith, recently visited Greymouth Community Corrections to speak to staff about the dangers and risks of Hepatitis C.

The new mobile service aims to reach higher at-risk populations, and specifically those who interact with others who might be unknowingly carrying Hepatitis C.

All West Coast Community Corrections staff took advantage of an easy fingerprick blood screening test, which provides results within five minutes.

The mobile van service is funded by the Ministry of Health as part of its strategy to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2030.

Mobile van nursing staff support people to get tested for exposure, active disease and curative treatment – including clinical oversight for people who are not enrolled at a General Practice.

To best reach the at-risk population, the team partners with local health services and targeted organisations in the community to deliver staff education on Hepatitis C. This includes awareness of liver issues, the point-of-care testing (medical testing that is performed outside of a laboratory setting), Fibro scanning (liver scanning) and harm reduction equipment (for example needle exchange kits).

Hepatitis C treatment is also a focus in our prisons where education and treatment programmes can help with the wellness of people in prison as well as its eradication from our communities.