Forward Leeds are on their bikes for World Hepatitis Day

For World Hepatitis Day 2021, Forward Leeds are spending three days cycling in Penny Pocket Park.

The city’s drug and alcohol service is working together with the Hepatitis C Trust to raise awareness of the virus and encourage people to get tested.

In the three days up to and including World Hepatitis Day on the 28 July, Forward Leeds and Hepatitis C Trust staff and volunteers will be testing how far they can cycle on exercise bikes in the park on Kirkgate opposite Leeds Minster.

This is to support the Hepatitis C Trust’s Around the World campaign. A challenge to walk, run, cycle, wheelchair, swim, row or even roller skate the 24,901 miles circumference of the Earth.

During this three-day awareness-raising event Forward Leeds staff will be available to speak to people about hepatitis C and the Trust will test anyone who wants to get tested for hepatitis C, there and then in the park.

Also joining in the cycling will be members of Leeds City Council’s Public Health team, staff from St James’s Hospital and directors from other local and national charities including BARCA-Leeds and Humankind.

The spin bikes have been kindly loaned from the Pure Gym Leeds City Centre South.

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

Over time, the inflammation 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.

There are an estimated 150 million people worldwide chronically infected with hepatitis C. The level of infection in the UK is believed to be around 0.5%. The virus can only be transmitted by infected blood.

Hep C can be treated and, in most cases, it can be cured with a simple course of tablets.