Nurses are being encouraged to offer their support to raise awareness of hepatitis C and promote increased testing and diagnosis.
The Department of Health and the Royal College of Nursing have launched an advertising campaign inviting the public to self-assess their risk of having hepatitis C and to seek medical advice if they believe themselves to be at risk of infection.
Adverts will appear in national newspapers, regional radio stations and on public transport buses.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "Following the call at our congress last year for the government to do more to raise awareness about hepatitis C, we are delighted to see the launch of a new advertising campaign to encourage people to think if they have put themselves at risk.
"We are concerned by the many gaps in people's knowledge of hepatitis C, for example, the fact that there isn't a vaccine to protect against hepatitis C, as there is for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
"We encourage all nurses to ensure they are fully aware of the transmission routes, diagnostic process, prognosis and treatment of the virus, and to be mindful of it when interacting with patients."
The advertising campaign began in November last year and will run until the end of March 2008.
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Absolutely - the lack of awareness is still something that is particularly worrying - especially amongst those at greatest risk, ie, intravenous drug users. More campaigns - more awareness - less stigma and discrimination (especially of the above group) - and an increased effort to reduce drug-related harm and to prevent transmission of hepatitis C to ALL at risk groups. However, we need to be aware also of the increased and obvious
risk of increased numbers of patients being diagnosed and put forward for combination therapy - and the potential effect on the NHS. The implications could be devastating for so many.
Education, training, awareness and prevention - whilst always remembering that the most at risk group (drug users) are similar to controls or comparable groups in adherence and response and that active drug use should not be an absolute exclusion criteria since full benefits of HCV therapy are NOT compromised when active drug users are successfully
retained in treatment. I fully support this campaign!" - Rick Cook, Brighton
"Oh yes. I'll support the campaign. I've just finished 6 months treatment for Hep C, but now they've started charging for my vaccines for Hep A and B, and I've already started these. I have to call the local health department here in Florida that I have a card for and not pay, but I was told they might charge also. What are you suppose to do when you don't have the money for the vaccines because you haven't worked and still can't? Any answers on your end. God Bless" - Name and address supplied
"Absolutely" - Name and address supplied
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