The Hepatitis C campaign stand will be providing information to mela-goers, and encouraging them to leave their handprint on a giant scroll alongside the prints of many Asian celebrities, in support of the campaign. Personalities supporting the campaign include former EastEnders and Bend it like Beckham actor Ameet Chana, Radio DJ Missy D, Pakistani actress Sakina Samo and TV presenter Faryal Khan.
When people visit the stand they will also have an opportunity to speak with a healthcare professional specialised in the field as well as with Shabana Begum who has received successful treatment for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can cause chronic infection, leading to serious liver damage and even premature death. Many people are unaware that they have hepatitis C, as symptoms often do not show for many years. If left untreated, it can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis or liver failure.
There is emerging evidence that South Asian communities may be at increased risk of hepatitis C infection compared to the general population in England. Higher rates of infection may be associated with risks such as medical or dental treatment abroad with unsterile medical equipment and sharing of razors.
There is currently no vaccine against hepatitis C so prevention of new infections is particularly important. Treatment is available and is effective at clearing the virus, on average, in 55 per cent of these treated. Success rates are higher for certain types of the virus.
A spokesperson for the South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF), Dr Saket Singhal said:
“We strongly support this initiative as there is evidence that chronic hepatitis C infection is more common in the South Asian population.
“It is therefore, of vital importance that both the public and healthcare professional providers are aware of hepatitis C and the potential dangers to health posed by this virus.”
TV and radio personality Ameet Chana, who is supporting this campaign said:
“The best way to tackle hepatitis C is to increase awareness and understanding of the transmission routes of the infection. I’m supporting this campaign to do just that – the more you know the better.”