MORE work is to be carried out to tackle hepatitis C in Blackpool after two thirds of those tested in a study were found to have the disease.
The resort was chosen for the British Liver Trust pilot scheme because it has the worst rates of liver disease in the country.
The project offered injecting drug-users and methadone users blood tests at Whitworths Pharmacy, on Whitegate Drive.
Of 110 tested, 70 were found to prove positive for hepatitis C – 64 per cent of those tested.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which infects the cells of the liver and can lead to cirrhosis.
More men were tested than women and 61 per cent were aged 35 to 49.
A report by the British Liver Trust said: “The results illustrated the high levels of hepatitis C in this target at-risk group and were higher than expected.
“The statistics show over a third admitted putting themselves and others at further risk by continuing to use drugs, sharing paraphernalia and having unprotected sex.”
Sarah Matthews, spokeswoman for the trust, said: “This project really showed the value of working with Whitworth pharmacies in the Blackpool community.
“It also highlights the key role a pharmacy setting has in fighting viral hepatitis and working with the local blood-borne virus team and hospital to ensure continuity of care.
“There are few symptoms of liver damage, so it is vital there are opportunities for people to get tested in a variety of settings which suit them. “This project was a great opportunity to raise awareness of liver health while testing people for viral hepatitis.”
It is now planned to carry out more similar projects and create a rota of pharmacies for outreach programmes.
Two other pharmacies with needle exchange have also agreed to trial an outreach nursing service.