Eight pharmacies in Brighton and Hove are working with health chiefs and a national charity to offer free hepatitis tests.
Brighton and Hove City Teaching Primary Care Trust said that this was one of the first parts of the country to offer free on-demand tests for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
The trust – also known as NHS Brighton and Hove – described its partnership with the Hepatitis C Trust as a groundbreaking move.
They aim to tackle the hepatitis viruses which can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated.
The trust said that an estimated 250,000 to 466,000 people in Britain have hepatitis C and about 320,000 have hepatitis B.
Many have not had their condition diagnosed.
Hepatitis C is found in nearly half of injecting drug users in Brighton and Hove although it is not confined to them. Likewise, hepatitis B is found n about a third of injecting drug users.
Free tests on demand and advice are offered at
- Asda Store Pharmacyat Brighton Marina in Brighton
- I V Jones Pharmacy at 128 St James’s Street in Brighton
- Kamsons Pharmacy at 2 Lewes Road in Brighton
- Superdrug at 78 Western Road in Brighton
- Lloyds at 105 Church Road in Hove
- Payden’s Pharmacy at 24 St James’s Street in Brighton
- Ross Pharmacy at 3 York Place in Brighton
- Your Local Boots Pharmacy at 105 St George’s Road in Brighton
Katy Jackson, head of medicines management at NHS Brighton and Hove, said: “This testing service could have a huge impact on our community as too many local people are affected by this.
“We want to make sure that NHS Brighton and Hove is at the forefront when it comes to innovation in health.”
Pharmacist Dominic Osman-Allu, from Ross Pharmacy, said: “I am delighted to be one of the first pharmacists offering free, on-demand hepatitis B and C testing.
“The tests are very quick and simple.
“This service will make accessing confidential hepatitis testing as easy as buying a tube of toothpaste.”
Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust said: “This service really can mean the difference between life and death.
“Too many people are developing life-threatening liver disease because they are being diagnosed too late.
“Hepatitis is a solvable problem in the UK.
“We just need to make sure those who have it are tested and diagnosed.
“Offering testing in community pharmacies is proven to do this.”
This project is part of a national programme co-ordinated by The Hepatitis C Trust and funded by the Department of Health.