Free Check for Hepatitis C at 29 July Rotorua Community Day
12/07/2019 4:51:10 p.m.

Friday 12 July 2019

Free Check for Hepatitis C at Community Day

Rotorua Library Monday 29 July 2019

Get tested, Get treated, Get cured

Here’s an opportunity to get a free, easy, five minute finger prick test, to check you are not one of the estimated 25,000 people with undiagnosed Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Lakes DHB Clinical Nurse Specialist Lydia White will be at a drop in clinic to do the finger prick tests and discuss the results, at the Rotorua Library from 1.30pm to 7.00pm on Monday 29 July.

There will also be information, prizes and kai, along with some other health care professionals supporting.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood borne virus that infects the liver and causes inflammation and damage over time. If left untreated chronic infection can progress eventually to liver failure or cancer. It is spread by blood to blood contact so the main risk factors are:
• Tattoo or body piercing with unsterile equipment
• Blood transfusion before 1992
• People who have ever injected drugs; even once
• Lived in or received medical treatment in a country of high prevalence and low standard of medical equipment serialisation
• Been in prison
• Born to a mother with HCV.

“There are lots of ways people may have got Hepatitis C. We won’t ask how you got it. We just want to treat people who do have it to prevent liver damage and cancer,” Lydia says.

If the finger test is positive for exposure to the virus, a further blood test is necessary to check for active Hepatitis C virus, and the team will be able to do that on the same day and send the specimen to the laboratory.

The really good news is that the new medication to treat this virus is almost 100% effective and has only a few mild side effects – if any. In fact, 9 out of 10 people don’t report any side-effects and will only need to take the tablets for eight weeks, Lydia says.

“People don’t need to be scared of the treatment any more. The new treatments are completely different. It’s a different ball game now.”

As well as running the community day, Lydia will also be increasing community awareness of Hepatitis C in an interview on Te Arawa FM radio on Friday 19 July at 8.30am.

An estimated 25,000 people could have undiagnosed Hepatitis C and not know. People infected with the virus are often unaware for many years because they have no symptoms until their liver really goes downhill. Although a few people do clear the virus themselves, most cases eventually progress and need treatment to clear it.

Lydia White has been a nurse for 18 years, specializing in gastroenterology  for 12 of these. She will be joined by nurses from the Regional Hepatitis Network, some of the team from Lakes DHB and also RAPHS on Monday 29 at the community day. No appointment needed.

World Hepatitis Day is Sunday 28 July 2019.
Let’s get rid of this virus in New Zealand!