A north-east health board has urged people to get tested for hepatitis C – no matter how long ago they may have been at risk.
The Get Tested, Get Treated, Get Cured campaign by NHS Grampian is designed to make people aware of the condition and comes after it was revealed around a third of people living in the north-east with the condition have not been diagnosed.
Lindsay McLeman, clinical lead at NHS Grampian for viral hepatitis, said: “Our overall aim is to wipe out hepatitis C across the NHS Grampian area.
“Anyone who suspects they have been confronted with the virus should get themselves tested.
“It is passed through blood to blood contact, so any previous or current injecting drug use may put someone at risk.
“This could be from decades ago, but we’d still encourage people to come forward and get tested because they may not know that they have the condition.
“Hepatitis C has very few symptoms and tends to live silently in the liver, but can cause quite chronic inflammation in the liver that causes long-term damage.
“So people could have no idea that they’ve got the virus, but they do know that they’ve been put at risk of it.”
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Leon Wylie the lead officer at Hepatitis Scotland, also urged people who may have been at risk to visit the doctor, and stressed how simple the test is.
He said: “If anyone has ever been at risk of the infection – through injecting drug use for example – they should contact their GP or another testing service to get tested.
“It is very easy. New tests just involve a finger-prick dried blood spot test, similar to the way they test for blood sugar levels.”
Information on testing, referral and treatment is available by calling the NHS Grampian liver service on 01224 554757 or visiting www.nhsgrampian.org/hepatitisc