Forward Leeds is part of a new campaign, encouraging people to get tested for Hepatitis C called, ‘Be Free of Hep C’.

The campaign starts on April 26 with an Awareness Week, then continues through May. The campaign is a collaboration with the Hepatitis C Trust, Gilead Sciences and other alcohol and drug services including CGL, We Are With You, Turning Point plus the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Andy Price, Team Manager at the Forward Leeds hub in Seacroft (pictured above) said: “We always encourage the people we work with to get tested for hepatitis C and it’s great to now be a part of this nationwide drive.”

“I don’t think everyone knows just how much treatment has improved in Leeds. It’s just a short course of tablets now with very few side effects.”

“Our aim, across Forward Leeds, is to test more people in May 2021 than any previous month since we started in June 2015. We know this will be a challenge during COVID as we’re not seeing as many people face-to-face right now. Long-term our aim is to help Leeds ‘micro-eliminate’ hep C as they have done in other areas of England.”

As well as displays in the hubs, Forward Leeds will also be sharing messages across their social media accounts using the hashtag #BeFreeOfHepC and re-sharing their internationally recognised film “Get Tested, Get Treated” about the improvements to treatment in Leeds.

The hepatitis C virus is carried in the blood. It affects the liver by preventing it from working properly by infecting the liver cells and causing inflammation.

In the UK, an estimated 118,000 people are chronically infected with the virus, and many of those people are in marginalised and underserved parts of our society.

Micro-elimination of hepatitis C is a strategy to achieve national elimination through initiatives to eliminate hepatitis C for parts of the population, such as geographic areas, subpopulations and age groups.

Sinead O'Reilly, Active Recovery Coordinator at Forward Leeds

Sinead O’Reilly, Active Recovery Coordinator at Forward Leeds

Over time, the virus can cause scarring (fibrosis) which could eventually cause significant damage to the liver (cirrhosis).

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.

Copyright 2016 Forward Leeds