This World Hepatitis Day, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner will join nurses as they test people for the liver virus hepatitis C as part of a push to eliminate the deadly disease forever.
Currently around 9,000 people living in the region have been diagnosed as having hepatitis C. But estimates show up to 70% of people who are infected are not diagnosed.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which can cause fatal liver damage and cancer. It is often called a “silent” epidemic because the virus does not cause obvious symptoms.
The virus is transferred through blood-to-blood contact, with the most common transmission route being the sharing of injecting drug equipment. Other ways the virus can be spread include poorly sanitised tattooing and piercing equipment; medical or dental procedures in countries with lower standards of medical hygiene and sex involving blood.
Medicines can cure the disease in 95% of cases and the NHS plans to eliminate hepatitis C in the UK by 2030 which is why this testing push is so vital.
Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust said: “We need to grasp this historic opportunity to eliminate hepatitis C and ensure we leave no one behind. People need to know that even if they just dabbled in injecting and shared injecting equipment just once 10 or 20 years ago they could have caught the virus. Go and get tested, it’ll give you peace of mind and very effective treatment is available.”
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “This is a disease we can beat. We have a once in a generation chance to wipe out a major public health threat. Let’s make it happen.”