Find the 100,000
To mark World Hepatitis Day, 28th July, 2016, The Hepatitis C Trust launched a digital billboard campaign to raise awareness that there are thought to be at least 100,000 people who are unaware they are living with hepatitis C. Those at risk or have symptoms are encouraged to ask their GP for a test.
The billboards are in prominent roadside locations on major routes in cities and aim to help find the 100,000 people whose health is at risk through living undiagnosed with a progressive but treatable condition. The risk factors The Trust is asking people to consider are blood transfusions prior to 1992, unsterile tattoos and piercings, medical or dental procedures abroad and injecting drugs even once, this includes steroids and tanning drugs. People who use steroids and other image or performance enhancing drugs are thought to have levels of hepatitis C nine times higher than the general population.
It is important for the public to consider the risk factors for themselves, some people can have no symptoms for decades despite the gradual erosion of their liver function. Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust said “It’s really troubling that there are thought to be so many people undiagnosed. You really want to avoid getting diagnosed when your liver damage is extensive or to leave it so long you raise your risk of developing liver cancer.”
Deaths linked to hepatitis C have doubled in the last decade. Although there is no need to be frightened of the virus, treatment is now quick, relatively side effect free and highly effective. The public just need to get tested to take the first step to being able to access treatment.
Even if somebody doesn’t think they are at risk, if they feel constantly tired without any obvious cause they should ask your GP for a test. Samantha May, Head of Support Services said;
“Over the years there has always been a significant number of people calling our helpline who have no idea how they contracted the virus. People are often tested for all sorts of things to find a cause for their poor health. All too often GPs don’t think that hepatitis C when patients complain about the decline in their health or even at times when their liver function tests are abnormal.”
World Hepatitis Day sees The Hepatitis C Trust joining with other hepatitis patient groups around the world through the World Hepatitis Alliance to launch the NOhep movement to push forward with the elimination of hepatitis as a serious risk to public health.
The UK has committed along with the rest of the world to eliminating the virus as a risk to public health at the World Health Congress this May. The challenge posed by the virus in the UK is smaller than many other countries, with relatively lower numbers of people thought to be living with the virus than in similar countries like the United States or Australia. New data released today shows that globally 95% of people are unaware they are living with the virus.
Charles Gore said;
“It would be good to see NHS England take seriously the United Kingdom’s international commitment to tackling hepatitis C. Around the world countries with far fewer resources and far higher prevalence of the virus are matching their commitment with the improved diagnosis and greater treatment that is necessary to all but eliminate the virus.”
This billboard is on London's North Circular.
This billboard is on Manchester's ring road.