Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hepatitis C:The 'Big Red C' awareness-raising campaign launches in Grampian

23 July 2013

Hep C campaign test launches in Grampian

A major new campaign to encourage more people to get tested for Hepatitis C has been launched in Grampian.

The 'Big Red C' awareness-raising campaign, backed by a national group of hepatitis charities and supported by a number of local NHS Boards, aims to reach out to the estimated 18,000 Scots who are unaware they have contracted Hepatitis C. If left untreated Hepatitis C, which is a blood borne virus, can cause serious liver damage and death.

The campaign slogan - Ever injected? Get tested. Hep C - it can be cured - highlights the risks for anyone who has ever injected drugs and encourages them to consider getting tested.

The campaign will pitch up with four two metre 'big red 'C's at various venues across Aberdeen on July 23 and 24. It will target people who have used unsterile injecting equipment:

either currently or who have a history of injecting drug use, including people who may have injected drugs once in their life who are injecting or have ever injected steroids or other body image or performance enhancing drugs for example injectable tanning products. 

The campaign is also raising awareness of the reasons why people should feel motivated to get tested, such as:
the risk of liver damage caused by Hepatitis C
The availability of treatments which can cure the majority of cases
Preventing onward transmission of Hepatitis C

Around 18,000 of the 38,000 people living with Hepatitis C in Scotland remain undiagnosed. Although symptoms may not appear for many years, the Hepatitis C Virus can cause damage to the liver - potentially leading to cirrhosis, cancer and death.

The national campaign runs for a month and will be linked to Scotland's participation in World Hepatitis Day on 28 July. It will feature:
The 'Big Red C' Bus advertisements featuring the 'Ever Injected? Get Tested' slogan on selected bus routes in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. A washroom poster campaign is taking place in pubs and clubs in Dundee.
Launch of a new website (www.hepcscot.org), and textback service (text 'hep' to 66644) with easily accessible basic information about Hepatitis C and linking to more detailed information such as where to get tested and support services.
Four two metre high Big Red Cs which have been created to support the public health promotion of the campaign. These will tour Scotland and will be displayed in different venues within the local NHS Board areas involved in the campaign.
A National Family Fun Day is being held to mark World Hepatitis Day (28 July) in Scotstoun Leisure Centre, Glasgow - focusing on family fun, sport and information.

Leon Wylie, Lead Officer of Hepatitis Scotland - the national lead body for voluntary sector activity on viral hepatitis in Scotland - said: "Hepatitis C is a major health challenge in Scotland. It is vitally important that anyone who has ever injected drugs, even once, accesses testing.

"Up to 15,000 of those 18,000 estimated to be infected are no longer injecting drugs. So people who used or experimented with injecting drugs in the 70s, 80s and 90s - the so-called Baby Boomer and Generation X - may not be aware that they could be carrying the virus. This makes them one of the key target groups for the new campaign."

He added: "You can get tested at your GP or local Sexual Health Clinic - it is just an easy pin-prick blood test. Hepatitis C can be treated but if not in the long term it can cause life threatening liver problems, including cancer.

Grant Sugden, Chief Executive of Waverley Care, said: "It is so important that people who think they may have contracted Hepatitis C step forward and get tested. Early diagnosis means that people can get treated sooner which can help to prevent long term health problems."

He added: "Testing is free and confidential and there is a range of support services in Scotland, including Waverley Care, who can help people through treatment. We understand that a Hepatitis C diagnosis is more than just the medical aspects of the condition. We want people to know there is emotional and practical support out there for them also."

In Grampian, people who think they may be at risk should contact their GP, Drugs Action (01224 577120), or Grampian Sexual Health Services (0845 3379900).

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