Use and acceptability of salivary hepatitis C virus testing in an English Young Offender Institution

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People held in prison are at a high risk of having hepatitis C virus (HCV) and there is a public health drive in the UK to increase HCV testing in prisons and Young Offender Institutions (YOIs), with opt-out testing. There is an oral antibody test for HCV; this project aims to determine its acceptability in an English YOI setting. This project offered HCV oral point-of-care testing (POCT) using the OraQuick® test to 107 male young offenders attending a sexual health service at an English YOI, monitoring HCV positivity and evaluating acceptability. It also investigated young offenders’ histories of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and drug use. Mean age was 19.1 years. A total of 80.4% reported lifetime drug use and 0.9% reported lifetime drug injection. A total of 19.6% reported previous STIs. One patient (0.9%) was positive for HCV on OraQuick® testing. All patients found the POCT acceptable and one stated he would have refused a fingerprick test had it been the only test available for HCV testing. Salivary rapid HCV testing is acceptable among English YOI inmates. It is not as sensitive or specific as standard HCV tests and is more expensive. In our cohort, HCV positivity was low.

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