Taranaki Base Hospital offers free Hepatitis C testing
22 July 2019
Taranaki DHB is raising awareness for this year’s World Hepatitis Day by offering free Hepatitis C (hep C) testing for patients, visitors and staff on Thursday 25 July.
Community hepatitis C clinician for HealthShare, Nadja Gottfert, says a free pop-up clinic will be available for hep C screening and testing from 9.30am to 3.00pm in the main entrance of Base Hospital.
“This is the third pop-up clinic we’ve held this year as we work toward eliminating the hep C virus from the Taranaki community.
“Around 50,000 New Zealanders have hepatitis C, but many don’t know as the symptoms can be subtle like tiredness, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain” says Nadja.
Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood-to-blood activities that pierce the skin. You are at increased risk if you have:
- ever injected drugs
- ever received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment
- had a blood transfusion before 1992
- ever lived or received medical treatment in a high-risk country
- ever been in prison
- been born to a mother living with hepatitis C
- had jaundice or abnormal liver test.
Nadja says “The most common way of getting hepatitis C is through activities related to intravenous drug use. So if you have ever injected, even if it was only once back in the day, you should get tested.
“Hep C is serious. It can lead to liver disease and/or cancer, and if left untreated it can be deadly. But with new, better and easier treatment hep C can be cured.
“It doesn’t matter how you got hep C, what’s important is getting cured so you can get on with your life.”
PHARMAC is now funding a new hep C treatment, Maviret, which has the potential to cure more than 99% of cases in 8 to 12 weeks.
“The biggest issue now is finding those people who don’t know they have the virus so we can treat them. The only way to know if you have hep C is to get tested, so we encourage people to contact their GP or come along to one of our free pop-up clinics” says Nadja.
Along with this Thursday’s free pop-up clinic Taranaki DHB is planning another two on 17 September in Waitara and 15 October in Opunake. Venues will be promoted once confirmed.
BACKGROUND ON WORLD HEPATITIS DAY
World Hepatitis Day will be celebrated globally on Sunday 28 July. This year’s theme is “Find the Missing Millions,” with a focus on finding people living with hepatitis who are undiagnosed and linking them to care.
The day is a celebration of the progress that has been made in viral hepatitis elimination and a chance for the general public, the affected community, medical professionals and policy makers to come together to call for the elimination of this disease.
In 2016, every country in the world signed up to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030, currently only 12 countries are on track to do this. Viral hepatitis kills more than 1.34 million people each year, more than HIV/AIDs or Malaria yet there is a cure for hepatitis C and a vaccine and effective treatment for hepatitis B, the 4,000 deaths each day caused by viral hepatitis are preventable.
Currently 290 million people live with viral hepatitis completely unaware, one of the key reasons for this is a lack of awareness about the disease.
For more information please call:
021 665 017
Last updated: Wednesday, August 7, 2019