Hepatitis C campaign kicks off

Hepatitis

New treatment is revolutionising life for Scots battling the condition, with those at risk urged to come forward

29th July 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Treatment for a serious virus is being revolutionised, with those at risk urged to come forward.

Hepatitis C treatment has been transformed by a wave of new, tablet-only, extremely effective medicines with minimal side effects.

Until the last few years, those diagnosed with the condition had to have weekly injections for a year with side effects that mimic the symptoms of the flu; with only a 50% success rate. Many people with the illness didn’t complete, or even start, treatment.

On Friday (28 July), to mark World Hepatitis Day, Hepatitis Scotland and six NHS Health Boards launched a series of local social media campaigns, #BeHepCFree, that aim to re-engage in care those who were lost to specialist treatment and encourage others who may have been at risk to come forward also.

Based on an Australian campaign and using input from patients, practitioners and demographic data, the #BeHepCFree campaign is using targeted Facebook ads for a positive health purpose.

Leon Wylie, lead officer of Hepatitis Scotland, said: “The new drugs are transformative, it is now so easy to be treated and cured. A vital activity is getting people to come forward to access testing and care.

“The first time that physical media developed for this campaign was used in Lanarkshire, it resulted in a person coming forward for treatment. That means it is also already a cost-effective activity. We hope to maintain that successful start. As younger people have moved away from Facebook, the age-group we are targeting (40-60) has grown in number and also across economic groupings. We will be able to track engagement with the ads and this will be extremely useful in any further campaign activity.”

Dr John Logan, NHS Lanarkshire public health lead for hepatitis C, said: “The key message is that if you have been at any risk of getting hepatitis C, either recently or many years ago, get tested, and, if you are positive for the hepatitis C virus, get treated. GTX2 – get tested, get treated.”