Staff and patients joined together to urge people who think they may have been at risk of contracting Hep C to come forward and be tested. They took part in a major local advertising campaign to highlight World Hepatitis Day, which included NHS Forth Valley Consultant Heptatologist, Dr Pete Bramley, featuring in radio advertisements and speaking on Central FM. Other colleagues involved in the broadcasts were Senior Planning Manager David Munro and Forth Valley Drug and Alcohol Partnership Co-ordinator Elaine Lawlor.
Around 1500 people throughout Forth Valley are thought to be unaware they have Hepatitis C which is sometimes referred to as a silent disease as most people affected have no obvious symptoms for many years. Infection in Scotland is associated with drug injecting but tattoos, blood transfusions, needlestick injuries and unprotected sex can also lead to infection.
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. Around half of the 3,000 believed to be infected in Forth Valley have now been diagnosed,
The campaign was a great success with extensive coverage in local media.
Pictured are NHS Forth Valley staff (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.