Friday, 9 August 2013

NHS launches Hep-C awareness campaign

A new campaign being run by NHS Ayrshire & Arran flags-up the dangers of blood-borne diseases, such as Hepatitis C.

Included in those who could be at risk of contracting the potentially-fatal disease is anyone who has been tattooed at an unlicensed parlour.

The local 'FaCe it' campaign, featuring ads on buses travelling throughout Ayrshire, raises awareness of infections.  A spokesperson for NHS Ayrshire & Arran said, “Hepatitis C is a growing public health concern in Scotland, with around one-percent of the population affected by the virus.  It is estimated that at least half of those who are infected are unaware that they carry the virus.  In many cases hepatitis C is curable with appropriate treatment, yet diagnosis rates are low and even lower numbers of people who could benefit actually attend for treatment.”

Hepatitis C can go undetected as there are no obvious symptoms at the time of infection.  Some people can remain symptom-free for a long time and may be a potential risk to others without even being aware of it.  The NHS spokesperson said, “It is important that those who could be at risk get tested.”

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus and is mainly transmitted through blood-to-blood contact.  Sharing unsterile equipment that can inject, cut or scratch the skin poses a risk of infection.  This could include people who have ever injected drugs, people who have had a tattoo through unlicensed premises or who have attended ‘tattoo parties’ where people tattoo each other using needles.  People who inject image-enhancing drugs, including steroids or tanning agents, are also at risk.

The spokesperson for NHS Ayrshire & Arran said, “The virus causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated.  However, the earlier people are tested and diagnosed, the more likely it is that they can benefit from treatment.”

Further information on hepatitis C and the 'FaCe It' campaign are available from Zoe Kelly, Health Promotion Officer for Blood-Borne Viruses on 01292 885913.

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