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Using dried blood spot testing for diagnosing viral hepatitis

12 November 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 20


The target set by the World Health Organization to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health problem by 2030 first requires methods of testing for hepatitis B and C virus that are acceptable to diverse populations. One such test is the dried blood spot sample method. This article explains what a dried blood spot sample is, how it is collected, and how it can help increase the viral hepatitis test uptake in prisons, drug and alcohol services, and other populations at risk of hepatitis B or C infection.

In 2016 a global aim to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health problem by 2030 was set by the World Health Organization (WHO) (2016). The WHO reported that worldwide death rates attributed to hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in 2013 were 1.46 million, higher than either HIV infection, tuberculosis or malaria (WHO, 2016). Furthermore, fewer than 5% of people with HBV or HCV infections globally were diagnosed (WHO, 2016). Targets to diagnose people with HBV and HCV were subsequently set by the WHO as follows: 30% by 2020 and 90% by 2030. These WHO targets were escalated by NHS England to be achieved by 2025 (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health, 2018). However, these aims are underpinned by the need for safe and effective methods of obtaining a diagnostic blood sample.

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