Free home testing kits for Hepatitis C

The viral hepatitis team at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust  (NCIC) are on a mission to test and treat Cumbrian communities for hepatitis and stamp out the disease altogether.

Each year is a step closer to getting rid of viral hepatitis for good. World Hepatitis Day takes place on Friday 28th July, and is an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come and look forward to the not-so-distant future, where viral hepatitis does not exist anymore.

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver. It can be cured by taking a course of tablets. It often does not have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged and it can sometimes lead to life-threatening conditions such as liver cancer or liver failure.

Helen McConnell, Hepatitis C Associate for the nursing team at NCIC, said:

“We are trying to get more people tested because many do not realise they have been at risk or are infected. You can get infected by sharing a toothbrush, razor, vape or having unprotected sex. The more people we can test, the more we can treat and prevent further health problems such as liver failure, cirrhosis (liver scarring) and liver cancer.”

How can you get tested:

You can get a free home test for hepatitis C. The kit has everything you need to prick your finger and collect some blood. You then need to post your blood sample to be tested at our lab and wait for your result.

If you have hepatitis C, an NHS healthcare professional will help you get treatment to cure it.

Order your home testing kit.

Treatment is provided by the Viral Hepatitis Service at NCIC. It is well tolerated and usually consists of one tablet a day for between 8 and 12 weeks.

Are you at risk of contracting Hepatitis C? You may be at risk if you:

·       Had a blood transfusion or blood products prior to 1991 in the UK

·       Had a tattoo or body piercing abroad

·       snorted or injected drugs (including steroids) – even if it was only once

·       are born in or had a medical procedure in an area which has a higher prevalence of blood borne viruses (Such as Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa)

·       have had unprotected sex with anyone who is known to have HIV, Hepatitis B or C.

·       have had any other blood to blood contact such as sharing razors or toothbrushes

·       When symptoms do occur, they can be mistaken for another condition. If symptoms do develop, they usually occur a few weeks after infection.

Symptoms may include:

·       a high temperature of 38C or above

·       tiredness

·       loss of appetite

·       tummy (abdominal) pains

·       feeling and being sick

The only way to know for certain if you have hepatitis C is to get tested. The test involves a quick finger prick test and our staff will be able to give you expert confidential advice there and then if you have the virus.

Helen added: “15% of people will fight off the infection post-exposure and be free of the virus. For the remaining cases, 85%, it will stay in the body causing liver damage. Although there’s currently no vaccine available, Chronic Hepatitis C can be treated with very effective antiviral medications.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has committed to eradicating Hepatitis C by 2030 so by testing (and treating) as many people as possible, we can make this happen.”


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