One in twelve people worldwide are living with the Hepatitis B or C virus unaware. On Tuesday 19 May, in support of World Hepatitis Day, a ground breaking pilot project is being launched on the Island for three months to help diagnose more people with Hepatitis B and C and save more lives.
For the first time ever, nine local Pharmacies, working in conjunction with the Island Drug and Alcohol Service (IDAS), will be offering free, confidential Hepatitis B and C testing in their practices.
World Hepatitis Day is dedicated to raising awareness of viral Hepatitis B and C and the importance of ‘getting checked’. These viruses are often referred to as ’blood borne viruses’ as they are carried in the blood and are transmitted in blood to blood contact. Left untreated, they can cause serious health problems.
Elaine Baxendale, Deputy Manager for IDAS, said: “Many people are unaware they have Hepatitis which is worrying. The virus can develop slowly, over a period of five, ten or even as long as fifteen years without showing any symptoms. The good news is now anyone who feels they may have been at risk of contracting Hepatitis can visit one of the participating Pharmacies to receive their free, confidential test.”
Hepatitis can be contracted through any of the following risks:
Received a blood transfusion in the UK prior to 1991
- Born in Asia, Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East and received medical treatment in these areas
- Had a tattoo or piercing done in unregistered premises or using unsterile equipment
- Injecting drugs, including steroids
- Pricked yourself on a needle or a sharp object that has been used by someone else
- Have come into contact with the blood of another person e.g. through contact sports
- Had unprotected sex with anyone known to have Hepatitis B or C or might have been at risk for any of the reasons above
Hepatitis B and C testing involves a simple finger-prick of blood being taken. The testing process takes approximately three weeks and if Hepatitis is diagnosed, a referral will be made to a specialist liver doctor for treatment. Hepatitits testing is also carried out at GP Surgeries and at the Sexual Health Service, St. Mary’s Hospital.
The Pharmacies offering free tests from Tuesday 19 May are:
• Alliance Pharmacy, Sandown
• Boots Pharmacy, Cowes
• Boots Pharmacy, Ryde
• Boots Pharmacy, Sandown
• Day Lewis Pharmacy, Cowes
• Gibbs and Gurnell, Ryde
• Lloyds Pharmacy, Pyle Street, Newport
• Lloyds Pharmacy, Esplanade, Ryde
• Regent Pharmacy, Shanklin
Kevin Noble, Community Pharmacy Lead for NHS Isle of Wight said: “This pilot project will enable health professionals in the community to identify people on the Island who are living with Hepatitis, in most cases unaware, and help them to get the treatment they need in order to reduce the risk of developing serious health problems. For some people, being able to go to a local Pharmacy for a test is much easier and accessible and will hopefully encourage more people to come forward and get themselves checked.”
Notes for Editors:
- For more information about Hepatitis B and C, visit www.nhs.uk or telephone The Hepatitis C Trust Helpline on 0845 223 44 24
- Tests will be offered for three months in pharmacies across the UK in London, Greater Manchester, Bristol, Sandwell, Nottingham and the Isle of Wight.