To support World Hepatitis Day on Thursday, July 28, NHS Tayside is encouraging people to come forward for free Hepatitis C testing and to take advantage of improved new treatments.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood borne virus which can cause serious liver damage including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Those most at risk of contracting the condition include people who are currently or have a history of injecting drugs, including steroids or other performance enhancing or body image drugs such as injectable tanning products.
Ann Eriksen, Executive Lead for Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses for NHS Tayside said: “We want to get across the message that Hepatitis C, when diagnosed, can be cured. There are now highly effective drug treatments with very few side effects and with cure rates of over 95 per cent.
“We estimate that there are around 4000 people in Tayside living with HCV. Whilst we have diagnosed almost 90 per cent of individuals, more than 400 people remain unaware that they have the condition as they have never been tested. Finger prick dry blood spot testing for Hepatitis C is quick and easy and is widely available across Tayside, including in many community pharmacies.
“There are also several hundred people who, following diagnosis, have either never attended a specialist clinic or who have not completed their treatment. Contacting these individuals and engaging them in treatment will be a major focus of our work over the next few years and we are working hard with our colleagues to encourage referral back to services.
“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.
“The new treatments, alongside interventions aimed at reducing new transmissions, means that there is a genuine prospect of eradicating hepatitis C in Tayside within the next decade.”
Testing is available as follows:
Thursday, July 28 - Eradicate in Cairn Centre, Dundee from 9am-5pm
Thursday, July 28 - Terrence Higgins Trust, Swan House, Dundee from 1-5pm
Friday, July 29 - Abbey Health Centre, Arbroath from 9am-5pm
Friday, July 29 - Cairn Centre Drop-in from 10am-6pm, (Dry Blood Spot testing available)
Saturday, July 30 - MenOnlyTayside at Klozet, Seagate, Dundee from 1-5pm
Sunday, July 30 - Cairn Centre Drop-in from 12- 2.30pm, (Dry Blood Spot testing available)
More information is available at www.hepcscot.org.