New Campaign Launched to Highlight Silent Disease

Around 1500 people throughout Forth Valley are thought to be living with the silent disease, Hepatitis C without knowing it. Now a major advertising campaign on buses, posters and local radio is urging anyone who thinks they may have been at risk of contracting Hep C to get tested.

The campaign has been launched to coincide with World Hepatitis Day on July 28th 2014. Infection in Scotland is associated with drug injecting but tattoos, blood transfusions, needlestick injuries and unprotected sex can also contribute.

To help raise awareness, a number of local people from across Forth Valley affected by Hepatitis C have told their own personal stories in a series of radio adverts. These include Bob from Clackmannanshire who became infected with Hepatitis C after receiving a blood transfusion over 30 years ago, Graham from Menstrie who contracted Hepatitis C after having a tattoo done at home and Kirstin from Stirling who recently received a liver transplant after she contracted Hepatitis C.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant Hepatologist Dr Pete Bramley said: “It takes between 20 and 30 years for liver damage caused by Hepatitis C to become apparent. Over the past few years testing, treatment and care have increased dramatically. But we know there are still many more people who are unaware of the risk to themselves and who need to be tested and referred for treatment. I would urge anyone who has been at risk at any point in their lives to get in touch so they can receive specialist care.”

An estimated 39,000 people are currently living in Scotland with Hepatitis C. We have diagnosed approximately 50 per cent of the 3,000 we believe are infected in Forth Valley.

Petra Wright, from Bo’ness, who now works for the Hepatitis C Trust added: “I think that I had Hepatitis C for about 20 years before I was diagnosed. I’ve been clear of hepatitis for three years now since my successful treatment. It feels brilliant, like getting your life back. I’d encourage anybody to go and get tested if you think you’ve been at risk. The team at NHS Forth Valley are so supportive.”

Pictured are NHS Forth Valley colleagues (L-R) Ann McGregor, Blood-Borne Virus Project Manager; Joe Hamill, Senior Health Promotion Officer; Jacqueline Fraser, Senior Staff Nurse; Alison Angus, Staff Nurse and Arlene Gibson, Phlebotomist.