This weeks tenant to be introduced is The Hepatitis C Trust who are a UK charity whose overall goal is to eliminate the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United Kingdom.
What do they do?
The organisation aims to:
1. Raise public awareness that hepatitis C is a virus that can be contracted in many ways
2. End discrimination against people living with hepatitis C
3. Create an active community of patients willing to stand up and be heard.
There are 130-170 million people living with hepatitis C across the world with 3 to 4 million new cases every year, according to the World Health Organization. In the UK alone there are around 215,000 people living with the virus and half of these people have no idea they have it.
The organisation is patient-led and patient-run: the majority of staff and volunteers either have hepatitis C or have had it and it has been cleared with treatment.
What is Hepatitis C?
If you are sitting wondering what hepatitis C actually is there is lots of useful information on their website to help you understand a little bit more about the virus. In brief, hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that mainly infects the cells of the liver, although other areas of the body can also be affected. The disease means that the liver cannot perform its essential functions.
What services do they offer?
Just like the organisation, the helpline is staffed solely by people with hepatitis C, some of whom have been through/or are currently undergoing treatment. This is a confidential service aiming to provide support to those with hepatitis C.
Drug services team
The charity has a team of 5 staff who are employed as drug service providers. A massive 90% of people in the UK with hepatitis C infections are people who currently inject drugs or have done in the past. The Hepatitis C Trust works together with other organisations such as Addaction and CRI to help eliminating the virus in the UK.
South Asian outreach
The organisation emphasises an urgent need to reach out to the South Asian community within the UK as the virus has a 2-4% prevalence. This is 4 to 8 times more compared with the rest of the British population. The organisation has a South Asian outreach officer who leads a program designed to increase awareness of the disease and lead testing events in the South Asian community at melas, mosques and other community centres.
The project’s goal is to raise awareness of HCV within the South Asian Community and to encourage people to come forward and get tested to reduce the incidence of liver disease.
Outreach and testing van
In high risk areas of HCV a service offering testing is often very far away. The Hepatitis C Trust’s outreach and testing van allows more people to get tested. The van targets the most at risk populations in an area where testing’s not yet easily available, while providing clear information and advice from trained staff as well as on the spot rapid antibody testing.
How can you get involved?
If you have the HCV virus there are lots of ways you can get involved. The organisation is looking for volunteers for its helpline as well as members for its patient council.