The new site, which is part of the Department’s national hepatitis C awareness campaign, provides specific advice and information relevant to South Asian communities. Emerging evidence suggests they may be at a greater risk of contracting the virus compared to the general population in England.
The easy-to-use site provides the key facts about hepatitis C and includes a simple online questionnaire for people to assess whether they may have been at risk of infection. Visitors to the site will also be able to watch the latest television adverts for the campaign and download an information leaflet in several South Asian languages, including Urdu, Gujarati and Punjabi.
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. 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.
Dr Jahangir Rehman, a hepatitis C specialist at Bradford Royal Infirmary, whose specialist interest is hepatitis C in South Asian patients, said:
“The new hepatitis C site is a great resource and shows that the Department of Health is committed to raising awareness and tackling this disease amongst South Asian communities. People who think they or a member of their family may have been at risk or have the disease can visit the site and get the key information they need. The site is a very useful tool in helping people to avoid the risk of acquiring the infection and tackling misconceptions the South Asian community still associate with hepatitis C – especially when it comes to how easy it is to test for the disease and the effective treatment that exists for the virus.”
A confidential and free phone hepatitis C helpline is available for people who want to talk to someone in their own language on 0800 181 4774.