South Asians warned of Hepatitis C risk

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A NEW campaign has been launched to make the South Asian community more aware of Hepatitis C.

Although hepatitis C can affect anyone campaigners say there is emerging evidence that the virus, which can be contracted through infected blood, is more prevalent in the South Asian community.

A special CD called ‘My Story’ has been created by the Department of Health’s ‘FaCe It’ hepatitis C awareness campaign to highlight the issue.

It features music from popular Asian artists including Adnan Sami and Hadiqa Kiani, as well as an interview with 39-year-old Huddersfield mother Shabana Begum who contracted the virus in 2004.

Shabana was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2004, although she suspects she contracted it through medical treatment in Pakistan in the late 80’s. She lived with the virus for nearly 20 years before it was detected, as symptoms can take a long time to develop. Shabana underwent a six-month course of treatment with antiviral drugs and was found to be successfully clear of infection in 2005. She believes this CD is vital to raise awareness of the virus.
“The more that myself and other people in the South Asian community do to raise awareness, the more we can make a difference”, she said.

“I have taken this mantle on myself because I’ve personally been through hepatitis C and I’ve come out the other end clear of the virus. I know what it feels like to experience the symptoms, the treatment and the stigma behind it. I want to help other people and save a lot of lives.”

If undetected, hepatitis C can develop into cirrhosis or even liver cancer, and in a small proportion of cases, can be fatal.

Further information on hepatitis C is available on the campaign website, which can be found at www.hepc.nhs.uk

The public can also call the Hepatitis C Information Line on 0800 451 451 (textphone 0800 0850859) from 7am-11pm, 7 days a week for confidential information and advice.

 

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