News & Events

28
JUL

World Hepatitis C Day July 28th

Three Dublin-based groups come together for ‘CThis” campaign to encourage hepatitis C testing on World Hepatitis Day #Cthis - visit www.hepinfo.ie

A giant green letter C will be travelling through Dublin city this week to create awareness of hepatitis C, a disease that affects up to 50,000 people in Ireland but is still misunderstood. The ‘CThis’ campaign, for World Hepatitis Day (28th July), will be encouraging people who may be at-risk to learn more about the condition by visiting the revamped website HepInfo.ie that contains information on how to get tested and seek support.

The ‘Big Green C’ will visit the following locations:

  • Dublin Castle-Barnardos Square, Monday 28th July (World Hepatitis Day), 12.00 – 2.00 pm
  • Parnell Street, Cineworld - Tuesday 29th July, 6.00 - 8.00 pm
  • Heuston Station - Wednesday 30th July, 4.00 - 6.30 pm
  • North Earl St - O’Connell Street -  Thursday 31st July, 12.00 – 2.00 pm
  • King Street South - Grafton Street - Friday 1st August, 12.00 – 2.00 pm

The awareness initiative is supported by Community Response, Dublin Aids Alliance and UISCE, who collectively provide support and advocate on behalf of people with blood borne viruses as well as drug users. The three groups are uniting to call on people who could be at risk of hepatitis C to get tested. People who need more information can also ring the HSE helpline 1800 459 459.

The two metre tall green C was developed to symbolise the magnitude of the disease and to support local health promotion of the campaign. The campaign prop will visit a number of different Dublin locations this week (please see below) and volunteers will be on hand to provide the public with information on the disease and how they can get tested.

Hepatitis C is often referred to as a silent epidemic. Although up to 50,000 Irish people may be infected with hepatitis C, many may not know they have it. In the early stages about 75% of people don’t experience any symptoms and therefore don’t realise they have the virus. This leads to people not being diagnosed until more serious symptoms occur, such as cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver – the HSE estimates that 1,000 new cases are identified each year with approximately 30 per cent of these developing cirrhosis.

Hepatitis C is transmitted from person to person through blood-to-blood contact. While many falsely believe that this is exclusively a consequence of sharing needles, there are many other ways that the virus can be transmitted, including infected blood and blood products, needle stick injuries, tattooing, piercing and acupuncture, and medical, surgical or dental procedures. However there are treatments emerging that will make a dramatic difference to the lives of patients.

Nicola Perry of Community Response said: “Hepatitis C is often misunderstood by the public. It can be confused with hepatitis A or B where there are vaccines available. Hepatitis C cannot currently be vaccinated against and can lead to a long-term infection. People need to be aware how hepatitis C is contracted and get tested if they feel they could be at risk.”

While approximately 80% of hepatitis C cases are associated with drug use, many people have kicked their drug habit and are now leading normal lives, completely unaware that they have a virus that is causing serious damage to their liver. Testing is available for free at public STI clinics.

Niall Mulligan, Director at Dublin Aids Alliance added, “We are delighted to partner with Community Response and UISCE on this project. This initiative is fundamental in ensuring that those who may be at risk of hepatitis C have access to the information needed, particularly the availability of free testing at a range of public clinics, including a monthly clinic at Dublin Aids Alliance.  Testing is essential for preventing transmission of hepatitis C, and also ensures that those who may test positive have access to support and treatment.”

UISCE said, “World Hepatitis Day is a great opportunity for us to create awareness around hepatitis C. People do not know enough about the virus here.  It’s important that people who have engaged in risky behaviour in the past recognise that even though time has passed and they have changed their lifestyle they can still be left with the legacy of this virus.”

Dr Shay Keating, Drug Treatment Centre Board, said, “The treatments for hepatitis C have evolved hugely in recent years. Patients no longer have to endure gruelling treatment, for one thing. By creating more awareness of hepatitis C and highlighting how it can be contracted it is hoped that more people would recognise their potential risk and get tested.”

The three groups will engage in a unique week-long series of information events that will be taking place across the city to coincide with World Hepatitis Day – all centred on the two metre high ‘Big Green C’. The groups will have local members on hand to provide practical advice and support for those looking for information on the disease, and will be encouraging the general public to take ‘SelfCies’ with the giant green C and tweet to raise awareness of the campaign using the hashtag #CThis.