Rapid testing for, now curable, Hepatitis C to take place for the first time in county Clare
This month will see rapid testing for Hepatitis C available for people living in county Clare take place for the very first time. However, Hepatitis C is now completely curable, it comes in the form of one tablet a day for 12 weeks with little or no side effects. GOSHH are now extending their testing service to county Clare facilitated by NCCWN Clare Women’s Network in Ennis and Killaloe and Ballina Family Resource Centre. Each centre will first host a public Hepatitis information session followed by a free Hepatitis C and HIV rapid testing session. NCCWN Clare Women’s Network information session is taking place in their premises on the Clonroad Business Park, Ennis on Wednesday 20th March at 10:30am This will be followed by a free Rapid Hep C and HIV testing session on Tuesday 26th March from 10.30am – 12.30pm. The same programme is also being run in Killaloe and Ballina Family Resource Centre.
The only way to know whether you have Hepatitis C or not is to be tested. GOSHH have been providing Hepatitis C tests to people since 2015. The testing service has been steadily growing and is contributing to finding unknown cases within communities as well as linking people back in with medical care, so they can access treatment.
Staff members from NCCWN Clare Women’s Network were the very first people to get tested in Clare this week. In describing the testing process Elaine Dalton of NCCWN Clare Women’s Network said “I was really nervous, often we don’t know our former partners sexual history. but the rapid test is very easy to do, and I was really glad I did it”. Not only is the testing very accurate but the results are also available immediately. GOSHH also offer full support for people around their test results, with support workers on hand to answer questions, clarify issues, talk you through the testing process and what happens next if you get a positive test result. Billie Stoica, the rapid testing coordinator at GOSHH stated “If someone is tested, and treated, Hep C can be cured. I think it is important that everyone gets tested, that’s why we are teaming up with community based groups in Clare, to provide updated information and testing.”
Kerry Bray, a
local woman who was cured of Hepatitis C in 2017
said, “I know that
when a person receives a test result declaring that they have Hepatitis C Virus,
it can feel like the end of the world, or that we have been given a death
sentence without a date.
So many of us received so little support or care during that period. We were given the results without any real explanation of the virus or its impact on our health. But now we have access to easy and efficient testing for Hep C as well as highly effective treatments, with far, far less side effects. If ever there was a good time for those who have contracted the Hep C Virus to get tested, it is now. The good news is Hep C is completely treatable.”
On average, in Ireland, around 600 people a year are newly diagnosed with Hepatitis C. These infections might not be new, as it is possible to live with Hepatitis C for 30 years or more without obvious symptoms, but those 600 people did not know they were living with a potentially fatal infection until they were tested. It is also estimated that another 20,000 people may well be living with Hepatitis C but not know about it. According to the 2017 Annual Report on Hepatitis C from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, the median average age for males and females to be diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2017 was 40-41 years old. 10% of these new cases were likely to have been sexually transmitted but many people have no knowledge where their Hep C could have come from.
FULL TESTING PROGRAMMEME:
Wednesday 20th March 10.30 – 12.00 Hepatitis C information update for friends and families
Tuesday 26th March 10.30 – 12.30 Hepatitis C + HIV rapid testing and support
NCCWN Clare Women’s Network, Education and Training Centre, Clonroad Business Park, Ennis, Co. Clare.
Telephone Elaine or Yvie for further information on 0851554800/0656828731 or Billie on 061314354/0872192848
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a walk in service with no appointment necessary.
Where information was available:
- 44% (n=124) of cases were born in Ireland
- 34% (n=96) were born in central or eastern Europe
- Risk factor data were only available for half of the cases
Who needs to get tested?
Key populations for HIV testing
Key populations at higher risk in Europe vary from country to country, but in general they include:
- Men who have sex with men
- Injecting drug users (including steroids, heroin, crack, speed….even if you have only done it once)
- Sex workers (and anyone who has exchanged sex for goods, services, accommodation or money)
- Migrants (including persons originating from a high prevalence country) and mobile populations
- People who have been in prison
- Sexual partners of any of these people
Key populations for Hepatitis testing
The key populations at higher risk of Hepatitis are the same as those for HIV, above. In addition, those at increased risk of living with undiagnosed Hepatitis C include:
- People on long-term haemodialysis
- People who have received blood, blood products, or organs before screening for Hepatitis C was implemented, or where screening is not yet widespread
- Healthcare workers
- People who have had medical care abroad in at risk countries
- Other types of drug users including people who have snorted drugs
- People affected by homelessness
- Sexual partners of any of these people
Annual Epidemiological Report, Hepatitis C in Ireland, 2017.