World Hepatitis Day 2021

Today marks World Hepatitis Day. World Hepatitis Day aims to bring awareness to hepatitis and to shine a light on the efforts being made to tackle hepatitis and other blood-borne viruses.

So what is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a viral infection that affects the liver, causing it to swell and cause pain. There are 5 viruses that can cause viral hepatitis, but the two we generally see within our service users are hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a treatable blood-borne virus that can have serious health implications. Hep C is by far the most common form of hepatitis that we see here at BDP. Like other hepatitis infections, hepatitis C causes swelling to the liver, which can lead to liver damage. Chronic infections can lead to potentially fatal conditions such as liver cancer, cirrhosis and liver failure. Infection often occurs with limited or no symptoms, so it is important to get regularly tested if you are in a high-risk group.

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with blood from an infected person. This includes sharing injecting equipment, sharing snorting tubes, sharing toothbrushes, scissors, razors, and unprotected sex. It is estimated that almost 90% of hepatitis C cases in the UK occur in people who inject drugs or have injected in the past.

Treatment of hepatitis C has moved along a lot from previous methods that had considerable adverse side effects. Hep C is now treated by a course of daily tablets that lasts 2 – 6 months.

Testing for hepatitis

Testing for hepatitis is straightforward and takes about five minutes. The most common testing method is by dry blood spot where a small sample of blood is collected from a finger. Your results will then be sent to you or provided to your BDP worker if you are already enrolled in one of our services. If positive, you will be contacted by hepatology to start treatment as soon as possible.

To get tested, please come to BDP’s Health and Harm Reduction Centre at 11 Brunswick Square, Bristol, BS2 8PE. Testing is completely free and confidential. For any questions around hepatitis and testing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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