The Health Protection Agency has identified that people originating from the Indian sub-continent are at increased risk of infection. The South Asian campaign is weighted towards Pakistani communities as current evidence indicates that they are more at risk of infection than other South Asian communities.
The campaign aims to inform people about the ways in which hepatitis C can be transmitted and to encourage them to seek advice from their GP if they may have been at risk of infection.
Raising awareness in the community
Carrying the message ‘Hepatitis C: the more you know, the better’, the new advertising and PR campaign have been launched at a national level to raise awareness through the South Asian media.
The advertising campaign is taking place across ethnic TV and radio stations, magazines and newspapers encouraging people to recall times when they could have been exposed to the virus in South Asian countries, such as through medical or dental treatment abroad with unsterilised medical equipment,.
This has been supported at a local level, in areas with large South Asian communities, through outreach work with community centres and mosques.
The South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) backs the campaign. Dr Saket Singhal, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich and member of the SAHF, said: We strongly support this initiative as there is evidence that chronic hepatitis C infection is more common in the South Asian population. It is therefore, of vital importance that both the public and healthcare professional providers are aware of hepatitis C and the potential dangers to health posed by this virus.
For healthcare professionals
As hepatitis C rarely carries any symptoms, healthcare professionals need to be alert to the risk factors in patients. GPs are being encouraged to continue offering advice and testing patients who may be unknowingly carrying the virus, as effective treatment is available to prevent serious liver disease.
Working with Primary Care Trusts in areas with a high population of people from South Asian countries, the new campaign is helping to equip GPs and other primary healthcare professionals with the knowledge and expertise to deal with enquiries from the community following the launch of the campaign, through the provision of posters and leaflets and a dedicated website at www.nhs.uk/hepatitisc/hcp/Pages/default.aspx
In particular, a new resource has been produced with specific guidance on how to discuss hepatitis C to patients with a South Asian background, which healthcare professionals can order or download from the website along with new leaflets available in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati and Turkish for distribution in patient surgery waiting areas and pharmacies.
For further information
Healthcare professionals can get more information on the hepatitis C campaign by visiting www.nhs.uk/hepc/southasian.
General information is also available at www.nhs.uk/hepc
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