Campaign to rasie awareness of Hepatitis C among health professionals is stepped up

An information campaign targeted at professionals with the aim of improving their knowledge of Hepatitis C and tackling stigma is being stepped up.

Launched nearly a year ago, the Scottish Government-led campaign has been focused on reaching around 16,000 health and non-health professionals, including GPs, NHS managers, Hepatitis C nurses, drug support workers and social workers, across the country.

By providing a new suite of information materials, the campaign has encouraged professionals to update their knowledge on the virus, with the aim of ensuring that people affected by the Hepatitis C and their families get the best care and support available.

The information campaign, taken forward as part of the Hepatitis C Action Plan launched last year, is now been widened to target other professionals likely to come into contact with people with the virus such as prison officers, local authority staff, midwives and students in the health field.

It is estimated that around 50,000 people in Scotland have been infected with Hepatitis C, with the majority of those infected living in the Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lothian, Grampian and Tayside areas.

In its first year, the campaign has targeted professionals with up-to-date information and materials, including fact sheets, a website, and a ‘talking heads’ DVD for GPs and patients.

The 30-minute long DVD features professionals who have been involved in the diagnosis of Hepatitis C and patients who have been treated for the virus talking about their experiences and is intended to be a ‘virtual support group’ for those affected.

Between January and September this year, there have been around 161,000 hits to the website www.hepcscotland.co.uk to view the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) on the management of Hepatitis C.

The information materials highlight the nature and scale of Hepatitis C across Scotland and explain the different routes through which the virus can be transmitted such as sharing drug equipment, unprotected sex, contaminated blood products, sharing razors, and ear piercing, body piercing, tattooing or acupuncture with un-sterile equipment.

Hepatitis C is a potentially fatal liver blood-borne virus. However, early diagnosis and intervention for people with the virus can prevent the transmission to others, a reduced rate of liver damage, and less risk of long term complications of Hepatitis C infection and treatment options. There is no vaccine against the virus.

Testing is particularly important for former and current injecting drug users because of the greater risks of the virus being transmitted through sharing and re-using syringes and other drug equipment.

he £4million Hepatitis C Action Plan launched in September 2006 aims to put in place mechanisms to ensure better co-ordination, planning and accountability of Hepatitis C-related services and to build on efforts to reduce the number of new cases in Scotland. The funding is being distributed to NHS boards to assist them in enabling improvements in these areas.

Professionals can access the website www.hepcscotland.co.uk to view the national managed clinical guidelines which include information on testing, referral and treatment of the virus.

Healthcare Republic does not have an editorial influence or input in to these press releases. The views expressed within these documents are not endorsed by Healthcare Republic or Haymarket Medical Publications Limited.

Enquiries should be directed to any contacts listed within the press releases.

 

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