02 Aug 16
What’s the F-ing story with Hepatitis C?

July 28th is World Hepatitis C Day and people are being encouraged to know their F-score by coming forward for testing and support

Up to 50,000 people in Ireland could be infected with the Hepatitis C virus.  However, nearly 30,000 of them have not yet been diagnosed, which could be putting them at a chronic risk of death, according to the Hepatitis C Partnership, which is marking World Hepatitis Day (July 28th) with their initiative “What’s Your F-ing Story?”

 Throughout the week from July 25th to July 28th, a special Fibro-Van mobile scanning unit has been stationed at clinics around Dublin city providing free Fibro-Scanning for anyone with Hepatitis C.  Knowing your F-score is the vital first step to support and treatment for this silent virus, according to Nicola Perry, chairperson of the Hepatitis C Partnership.   

 Hepatitis C can be 30 times more infectious than HIV.  However, early diagnosis, knowing your F-score and treatment with modern anti-viral drugs can cure up to 90% of those infected, greatly reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, she continued.  Hepatitis C is a blood-borne viral infection that affects the liver, causing it to become inflamed and not work as effectively in the body.  One in three homeless people in Ireland have Hepatitis C and can face barriers when trying to access treatment.

 “The message we want to get out there is that nobody should die from Hepatitis C,” said Nicola Perry, chairwoman of the Hepatitis C Partnership. “Treatments are available that can save your life.”

 The Hepatitis C Partnership is also launching Hep C & Me: A Journey, a new user-friendly booklet that aims to dispel the common misconceptions of Hepatitis C by providing accurate, up to date information to people about the virus, and critically, about the new treatments and supports that are available. The booklet is informed by a new Irish study of the same name, which focuses on the impact of receiving a Hepatitis C diagnosis, of living with the disease and – for increasing numbers – of being cured. 

 “One thing that really came through in the study was the need for better methods of sharing accurate information about the virus and about treatment,” said Nicola Perry. “People need to be adequately informed about the condition to dispel the common misconceptions of Hepatitis C out there and to create awareness of the latest treatment options available,” she said.

 “An initial diagnosis of Hepatitis C can be a deeply troubling experience for people,” she continued. “It brings up feelings of fear and anxiety. Participants in the study said they felt isolated and helpless. Support services early on in the process would have considerably eased the distress patients felt.”

 Many of those who took part in the Hep C & Me study had experience of or knew someone who had been through earlier Hepatitis C treatments, particularly Interferon.  These treatments placed a considerable burden on the physiological and psychological health of the individual, explained Ms Perry.

 “Huge changes have taken place in the treatment of Hepatitis C.  While the nature of the treatment process has changed significantly – with reduced side effects and shorter duration needs – perceptions of the older treatments remain a barrier today for people accessing the care they need. The study really highlights the need for information about the new treatments to be made widely available.”

 Other recommendations include the need for a continuum of care from diagnosis to post-treatment. “Post-treatment can be a particularly vulnerable time for patients,” Ms Perry said. “There is a need not only for post-treatment care to address the emotional and psychological difficulties reported by participants, but also the need for better understanding of the old and treatments.

 The study, sponsored by AbbVie Ireland, Gilead and MSD, and carried out by Archways Limited, forms part of the Hepatitis C Partnership’s “What’s Your F-ing Story?” initiative for National Hepatitis Week (July 25-28th).

 The Fibro-Van will be at Merchants Quay on July 28th from 1:45 pm to 4:30 pm if you would like to find out more, talk to members of the medical and support teams or talk to pre and post Hep-C patients. 

 For more information contact:

Edel Hackett, 087-2935207 or Emma Somers, 086-3400884

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