For World Hepatitis Day 2023 (28 July) Forward Leeds joined with staff from other services to run a relay across the city to raise awareness of the disease.
They were joined by staff from the Viral Hepatitis team at St James’s University Hospital, the Hepatitis C Trust, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Council’s Public Health team.
The runners’ goal was to increase public understanding of the hepatitis c virus and motivate people who believe they could be at risk to get tested and seek treatment.
Forward Leeds Clinical Director Dr Joe Tay, ran the 10K and said: “We did this to raise awareness of hep c and we want people to know that there is an easy test that can tell if you you’ve got it and that now we can easily cure you with a course of tablets with little to no side effects.
“If we test everyone who needs a test and treat everyone who needs treating we can get rid of this virus from our population, which is a pretty amazing thing”.
The team set off from the Forward Leeds hub in Armley at 10.30am and ran to the Forward Leeds hub on Kirkgate in the city centre.
After a short break they ran up to St. James University Hospital where a number of the nursing staff came out to cheer them on.
From the hospital the runners ran on to the Forward Leeds hub in Seacroft where they finished.
The hepatitis C virus (hep C) is carried in the blood and affects the liver by preventing it from working properly. Over time, the inflammation can cause significant damage to the liver and 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.
Treatment for hepatitis C these days is a simple course of tablets with no side effects and over 95% of patients are cured, so it’s worth getting tested and treated quickly to prevent further spread of the disease.
The highest risk group are injecting drug users, who may be sharing needles, syringes and other drug-using equipment. This includes people who inject steroids or share straws.
Other people who may be at risk include people getting medical treatment in a country where hepatitis C is common and health standards less rigorous than the UK.
Anyone who has had acupuncture, tattoos or body piercings in unsterile conditions or by sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes.
Anyone can do a free, confidential hepatitis C test at home by ordering a kit from the NHS https://hepctest.nhs.uk
The Race to Eliminate Hep C Torch for the event was designed and created for the event by Open Source Arts on Kirkstall Road.
You can view the route in the Google Map below.