The Hepatitis C Trust testing roadshow comes to Swindon on Thursday 18 July, 10am to 4pm, to help identify the thousands of people in England and Wales who have hepatitis C, but do not know they have it.
There are an estimated 519 people in the Swindon area who have hepatitis C. Less than half of these are likely to have been diagnosed and approximately only 3 per cent of those living with the virus receive treatment each year. 45.5% of hospital admissions for hepatitis C were unplanned in the Swindon area (2011-2012).
The Hepatitis C: Talk, Test, Treat roadshow will be located at Canal Walk crossroads with Regent and Bridge Streets, near Brunel Shopping Centre, SN1 1BB, from 10am-4pm.
Visiting towns and cities across England and Wales, the tour runs from 15 to 25 July abd marks World Hepatitis Day on 28 July.
It aims to help local NHS services identify patients, and stem the rising tide of this silent and costly epidemic.
Pictured, Phil Spalding and Sid Gutteridge, two Swindon sufferers who received early treatment for Hep C
Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust said: “Our World Hepatitis Day message is clear: if you think you have ever been at risk of hepatitis C, get tested. It can save your life.
"The Hepatitis C: Talk, Test, Treat roadshow will visit areas across England and Wales where there is real need to encourage testing and raise awareness. Prioritising the condition locally will contribute to our aim to eradicate the virus within a generation.
“People are needlessly dying from this preventable and curable disease because they simply don’t know they have it. What a waste of lives; and it’s also a waste of money. If the health service can’t see the human imperative of increasing testing, they should at least be able to understand the economic case.”
Laura Hill, Community Health Adviser, from Sexual Health, The Great Western Hospital, comments, “It is common that many people live with hepatitis C without ever realising because they often don’t have symptoms. Treatment is much more difficult if the disease is caught late and therefore it’s imperative that we diagnose people as early as possible to maximise the chance of a cure.
"I am a strong believer in screening as many people as we can, so localised events like this roadshow are incredibly important. The virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Anyone who considers themselves to have ever been at risk should come down to the Swindon event.”
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that currently affects 216,000 people in the UK. It can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer but if caught early, it can be treated and cleared.
At each event representatives from The Hepatitis C Trust, British Liver Trust, Crime Reduction Initiatives, Addaction and local patient support groups will be on hand to answer questions and provide information. Members of the public will be able to undertake a ‘hepatitis C risk screener’ to help determine whether they may be at risk. They can then receive immediate confidential testing on site, to see if they need to take any further action.
Professor Graham Foster comments, “This is an exciting time for hepatitis C. Current treatments can cure over 70% of patients with early disease and there are many new drug treatments on the horizon that are likely to improve success rates still further. Treatment is much more difficult if the disease is caught late and therefore it’s imperative that we diagnose those with hepatitis C as early as possible to maximise the chance of a cure.
I am a strong believer in screening and testing as many people as we can. Localised events like this roadshow play an important role in identifying patients.”
Thursday 18 July, 10am to 4pm
Canal Walk crossroad with Regent and Bridge Streets
Brunel Shopping Centre, Swindon SN1 1BB