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NHS Grampian urges public to get tested ahead of World Hepatitis Day

By Lewis McBlane

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NHS Grampian has encouraged people at risk of having Hepatitis C to take a test.

A simple test can provide hope.
A simple test can provide hope.

The message from Aberdeenshire's health board, part of a new public health campaign working towards eliminating Hepatitis C called Get Tested, Get Treated, Get Cured, comes before World Hepatitis day this Thursday, July 28.

Pauline Dundas, clinical lead for Viral Hepatitis at NHS Grampian said: “In the last two years Grampian has seen a drop in the number of people coming forward for testing.

"This means many people will be living with Hep C without knowing it. It remains a silent killer, as it can cause liver disease in people before they even know they have it."

New treatments for Hepatitis C have very few side effects, involve a short course of tablets and clear the virus in most cases.

Without treatment, Hepatitis C is an infection that can cause both liver failure and liver cancer.

Those at risk, and being asked to come forward, include anyone who has ever injected drugs, including anabolic steroids, and shared equipment – even if it was only occasional and many years ago.

It also includes people who have had tattoos in unsterile conditions or received healthcare abroad.

Most people have no symptoms and only discover they have Hepatitis C by getting tested.

Ms Dundas said: “This important campaign focuses not only on those who are still at risk but also encouraging those who may have been at risk in the past. It's really important, if you feel this might be you, to speak to your GP about getting a test today. You may not have any symptoms.

“If you need treatment, for most people, this is a 12-week course of drugs.

"Most people pick this up from a local pharmacy.

“You can help us to recover from the pandemic by coming forward for testing.

"If you don't or can't access your GP, then call us directly. We are ready to see you!”

Anyone who thinks they may have been at risk should speak to their GP or other health care worker and ask for a test.

Information on testing, referral and treatment is also available by calling the NHS Grampian liver service on 01224 554757.

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