Forward Leeds says ‘don’t live in doubt‘ where hepatitis C is concerned.
The city’s alcohol and drug service have developed a number of resources, highlighting how much easier it now is to get tested and treated for hepatitis C.
The campaign, developed in conjunction with staff from the hepatology department of St James’s Hospital and Leeds City Council, aims to raise awareness of changes to testing and treatment processes in the city.
Forward Leeds Clinical Manager Anne-Marie McMullan said: “50% of those with Hepatitis C don’t even know they have the virus, we are urging people to get themselves tested and in treatment.
“Testing involves a blood spot test from the finger. Forward Leeds provide both the test and referral to onsite clinics for clients of the serviced requiring treatment.
“In Leeds there is a 95% Hepatitis C cure rate, comprising of a course of tablets. The treatment is easier to access and more effective than it used to be.”
The leaflets and posters are being distributed to GP’s surgeries throughout the city. Stock is also held by the Public Health Resource Centre for anyone who wants to order it.
They will also be distributed to a range of other services including housing services and hostels, probation services and more.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. It affects the liver by preventing it from working properly by infecting the liver cells and causing inflammation.
If left untreated, 20–25 percent of infected individuals will develop cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis increases the risk of developing liver cancer, which can be fatal.
Untreated hepatitis C can also cause a range of other symptoms, such as muscular pain and achy joints, pain in the abdominal and liver area, fatigue, depression, headaches, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss.
In the UK, around 200,000 people have chronic (long-term) infection with hepatitis C virus. The majority are from marginalised and under-served groups in society, such as people who inject drugs. (source: Public Health England).