Drive to detect undiagnosed HepatitisC

Sunday 28th July 2019

NHS Tayside’s blood borne virus team says too few people who could benefit from improved treatment for Hepatitis C are coming forward to be tested.

To mark World Hepatitis Day today, six NHS boards are joining Hepatitis Scotland to launch a social media campaign #BeHepCFree to highlight how to get tested, treated and cured of Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a chronic, infectious and potentially fatal disease which can cause serious liver damage and liver cancer. Those most at risk include people who are currently or have a history of injecting drugs – even on just one occasion – including steroids or other performance enhancing or body image drugs. Individuals who have had tattoos or medical or dental procedures carried out abroad at facilities that may not have used sterile equipment area also advised to consider getting tested.

The Scottish Government has committed to meeting the World Health Organisation target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2024.

The manager of Tayside’s Blood Borne Virus Managed Care Network, Donna Thain, says people need to understand that this is a condition that can now be cured:

“We are world leading in our approach to identifying, diagnosing and engaging individuals in HCV treatment.

“The testing is quick and easy and is widely available across Tayside, in most cases using a finger-prick test.

“Tayside has been successful in diagnosing over 90% of the estimated chronic population and curing a high proportion of people with hepatitis C.

“However; there remains a significant undiagnosed population, posing both a risk to individuals’ own health as well as an ongoing transmission risk to others. Many people will have been infected ten to 20 years ago and be unaware of their diagnosis.

“Fear of stigma and lack of information often holds people back from getting tested or seen by specialist staff. We want to make sure that people know that there is wide range of friendly, accessible services across Tayside that can offer testing and access to very effective treatments.

“Hepatitis C is completely curable and treatment for most people will be with eight to 12 weeks of tablets. Over 90% of people can be cured easily.”