The scroll was launched in 2009 with support from celebrities to raise awareness of hepatitis C because emerging evidence suggests that people from South Asian communities in England are at increased risk of infection. If left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure. Although there is yet no vaccine for hepatitis C, there is treatment available which is effective for many patients.
Members of the public added their handprints to the scroll at the Birmingham’s Eid and London’s Barking melas in 2009. Since then, more celebrities including BBC news presenter Mishal Husain, Harlequins rugby union player Tajiv Masson and singer Navin Kundra have also lent their support to the campaign.
Mishal Husain said:
“I am delighted to add my handprint to the scroll and help raise awareness about an important issue for the Asian community. Hopefully together we can help prevent the spread of hepatitis C and encourage those at risk to get tested.”
Tajiv Masson said:
“I didn’t know very much about hepatitis C, but by supporting this campaign I have learnt a lot about the virus and that South Asians may also be at risk. I’m happy to do anything I can to lend my support to this very important campaign”.
Now the media are being invited to add their handprints to the scroll too. The aim of the visits to ethnic media offices is to provide journalists with an opportunity to find out more about hepatitis C. As ambassadors for the wider South Asian community, they can help their audiences to understand the facts about the virus better and promote the steps people can take to protect themselves and their families.
Zakia Yousaf, Editor of The Asian Today said:
“Not much is known about hepatitis C which is extremely worrying considering evidence suggests it is more common amongst South Asians. The Asian Today is fully supporting the campaign because it’s vitally important that the public are aware of the virus and the potential health dangers associated with it. Through the Asian Today Newspaper and The Asian Today Online we can help in creating that awareness.”
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can cause chronic infection and lead to serious liver damage. It is mainly spread by contact with the blood of someone who has the infection. Many people are unaware that they have hepatitis C, as symptoms often do not occur for many years.
The NHS has a confidential and freephone hepatitis C information line available for people who want to talk to someone in their own language on 0800 181 4774. There is also a dedicated South Asian hepatitis C website at www.nhs.uk/hepc/southasian where people can take a short online questionnaire to assess whether they’re at risk or not, or download a leaflet in languages including Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi and Bengali.
So far, the following celebrities have ‘signed the scroll’:
Radio Presenter DJ MissyD, Eastenders’ actor, Ameet Chana, DJ San-j-Sanj, Music producer Rishi Rich, Bhangra artist H Dhami, RnB singer Veronica, MC Mumzy , Pakistani actress Sakina Samo, TV presenter Faryal Khan, BBC news presenter Mishal Husain, Harlequins rugby union player Tajiv Masson and singer Navin Kundra.