Friday, 26th July 2019
This weekend for World Hepatitis Day, Sunday 28th July 2019, the HSE’s National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme is aiming to raise awareness that Hepatitis C is curable and treatment is free in the Republic of Ireland. People who might be concerned about their risk of exposure to Hepatitis C in the past, should now get tested. More information, including where to get tested, can be found at www.hse.ie/hepc.
World Hepatitis Day 2019 comes at a critical point in the HSE’s National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme’s journey towards making Hepatitis C a rare disease in Ireland. Under the clinical leadership of Professor Aiden McCormick, the programme aims to provide everyone in Ireland infected with Hepatitis C access to free treatment.
Professor Aiden McCormick, Clinical Lead for the HSE’s National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme has the following advice:
“Since 2015, we have treated and cured over 4,000 people of Hepatitis C in Ireland. Hepatitis C treatment is easier and more effective than ever before. Hepatitis C can be successfully treated with tablets, which can clear the virus from the liver in more than 97 per cent of people in as little as 8-12 weeks. We hope this message will encourage more people, who may be in a risk group for infection, to come forward to be tested. As Hep C is seen as a ‘silent disease’ – there are no symptoms – many of these people don’t even know they have Hep C. On World Hepatitis C day, we want to reach out to the undiagnosed cohort to get tested, get treated and get cured. You can find out if you’re in an at-risk category and where you can get tested at www.hse.ie/hepc”.
Speaking on World Hepatitis Day 2019, the Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, said;
“Today is a reminder to people who think they are at risk of Hepatitis C, or may have been in the past, to get tested. Hepatitis C often doesn't have any clear symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. This means many people are infected without realising it. It’s so important to raise awareness and to get the message out there that we can treat and cure Hepatitis C. If you have any concerns, the first step is to get tested and if needed you can access free treatment under the National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme”.
The HSE advises that you get a test for Hepatitis C if you:
- Have ever shared needles or equipment to inject any type of drug, even if you've only injected once.
- Most Hepatitis C infections in Ireland are acquired through sharing equipment when injecting drugs.
- Have ever shared equipment to snort or sniff drugs.
- Have ever been in prison.
- Have a tattoo, especially if you got it a long time ago or in a non-professional setting or in a prison.
- Are from a country where Hepatitis C is common.
- Have ever received blood or blood products in another country where blood donations are not tested.
- Have ever had medical or dental treatment in a country where Hepatitis C is common and infection control is poor.
- Were born to a mother who had hepatitis C at the time of your birth.
- Are a man who takes part in chemsex or has condomless, rough or extreme sex with men.
- Are a man who has sex with men and you have HIV.
Also, consider getting a test for Hepatitis C if you:
- Have lived with someone with Hepatitis C and there is a chance they may have passed it on.
- Received an organ transplant in Ireland before 1992.
- Had sexual contact with an injecting drug user.
In the Living with Hepatitis C report, The Hepatitis C Partnership highlighted the lived experience of those with Hepatitis C in Ireland:
‘I thought it was like a death sentence...I am going to be dead in 2 years or 3 years’. - Kevin
‘The last 15 years of my life, (I see) how much Hepatitis is after impacting on my life. I sit there and I’m drug free and I’m Hepatitis C free. I feel 20 times younger than what I was. I’m just after getting everything back, my health, and my peace of mind.’ - Seamus
‘It brought me back into my family. It brought me back into contact with people, the support I got off people; it made me respect people more as well’. - Eoin
Professor Aiden McCormick is available for interview on request.
Issued by HSE Press Office
Phone: 01 921 3912
Last updated on: 26 / 07 / 2019