Every year the 28th July is World Hepatitis Day.
Started by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the aim of the day is to raise awareness, promote testing, call for access to treatment and better prevention programs, and to encourage action from governments across the globe.
World Hepatitis Day is one of only four official disease-specific world health days. Each year Viral Hepatitis kills 1.5 million people globally, and is the world’s eighth biggest killer.
Globally World Hepatitis Day is co-ordinated by both WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance. In 2014 it received a great amount of support with 80% of countries across the world taking part through organising events and raising awareness.
World Hepatitis Day in Scotland
In Scotland, we are fortunate that the Scottish Government take Hepatitis seriously and so the focus of the day is on raising awareness and encouraging testing for Hepatitis C and B.
We are part of a national campaign, working with Hepatitis Scotland, NHS boards and other charities, highlighting the advances in treatment that mean the vast majority of people living with Hepatitis C can clear the virus in as little as 12 weeks.
The campaign is targeting two groups in Scotland where Hepatitis C testing and treatment could have a real impact on their lives – people who have been at risk and never tested, and those who have been diagnosed but never treated. There are an estimated 36,000 people living with Hepatitis C in Scotland. but 40% of them haven’t been diagnosed. Even among those who know they have Hepatitis C, many have never received specialist care.
People with Hepatitis C who are undiagnosed, or who are diagnosed but don’t access medical care, are more at risk of serious liver damage associated with Hepatitis C and stand to benefit most from accessing testing and the treatment now available.
Our message to people who may have been at risk of Hepatitis C recently or in the past is to get tested. You can find out more about whether you’ve been at risk of Hepatitis C from the campaign website. The earlier that people can get tested, the better for their long term health. Support is available to help them through the process. For those who have a positive diagnosis but aren’t getting support, we want to get the message out that effective treatment is available and that Hepatitis C can be cured.
To find out more about the campaign, including stories of people living with the condition, visit www.hepcscot.org.