The British Liver Trust will unite with organisations across the world to raise vital awareness on World Hepatitis Day on 28th July.
World Hepatitis Day is an annual event that provides international focus for patient groups and people living with viral hepatitis. It is an opportunity to raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.
There are 325 million people that are living with viral hepatitis in the world, yet up to 290 million of these are unaware that they have it. In recognition of this, The World Hepatitis Alliance are launching a campaign in association with World Hepatitis Day, which aims to focus on ‘finding the missing millions’.
Judi Rhys, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “A key challenge in ‘finding the missing millions’ will be the fact that hep C often has no symptoms in the early stages and it is thought that less than half of those living with the virus have been diagnosed. It is therefore vital that anyone who is at risk asks to be tested.
“Many people who are undiagnosed are not aware that they may be at risk. We would urge anyone who has ever dabbled in drugs (even if it was many years ago); had unprotected sex with someone who may have been infected; had a tattoo or received healthcare in a country with a high prevalence of the virus or who may be have been put at risk in their workplace, for example from a needlestick injury, to get tested to be sure. Further information is available on our website here.”
As most people historically infected with hepatitis C and in touch with services have now been treated, the greatest challenge is finding undiagnosed patients and re-engaging those previously diagnosed into care to ensure ambitious treatment target numbers are met. This will become more challenging as time goes on, due to the need to find increasingly hard-to-reach groups who are not in touch with services.
The three-year awareness campaign aims to educate, influence national screening policies and encourage more people to get tested with the hope of finding the missing millions and reducing further spread of the virus. To accompany the campaign, a white paper is being written to provide stakeholders with information on how to reach the goal.
Ambitious action must be taken to increase the numbers of people tested, diagnosed, and treated.
WHD 2018 posters and other campaign materials are available to download here.
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