A NEW scheme to test, treat and cure Hepatitis C will be rolled out in Bolton, health chiefs have confirmed.

The volunteer and peer mentor initiative will be overseen by Achieve, a specialist service run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH).

Under the project, 'Hep C' peer mentors and volunteers will use their own experiences with the condition to educate people most at risk of contracting the illness.

The blood-borne virus can often be caught by injecting drugs in non-sterile conditions or through unprotected sex.

Blood transfusions pre-1992 were controversially another source of risk and others have been affected after undergoing medical or dental treatment abroad.

Medical experts highlight that it can often go undetected for sufferers for a number of years before diagnosis.

And now in the week incorporating World Hepatitis Day, GMMH chiefs have said Achieve will offer the programme in Bolton, Bury, Salford and Trafford, supported by the Addictions Provider Alliance, which has funded a project lead.

Promoters of the initiative say they will be focusing on a 'micro-elimination' strategy, which sees them focus on particular at-risk group, like drug users.

Testing will see a dry blood spot check conducted - the service already has established links with treatment clinics in Bolton and Bury.

Jonathan Miller, Achieve service manager, said: "In recent years, there has been significant advancement in treatment for Hepatitis C, with the side effects of treatment now greatly reduced, and cure rates of 95 per cent.

“Through providing tailored practical and emotional support to our service users, we hope to significantly increase the numbers of at-risk individuals who are tested for hepatitis, with those who test positive moving on to treatment and, ultimately, getting cured as a result.”

People interested in becoming a peer mentor or volunteer can go online to www.gmmh.nhs.uk/volunteering. More details are also available on the Hep C U Later website.