Five steps to lower your risk of hepatitis and protect your health

Turning Point’s Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Service (DAWS) highlights the five key steps you can take to protect yourself and reduce your risk of hepatitis B and C.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

This Friday 28th July is World Hepatitis Day. Turning Point, in line with the World Health Organisation have a target to fully eradicated hepatitis C by 2030. To support this target, The Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Service (DAWS) want to raise awareness about hepatitis locally and get more people access to testing and treatment.

An estimated 60,000 people in London have been infected with hepatitis C (they are hepatitis C antibody positive), of these, 69% have not cleared the infection. This highlights the impact of hepatitis C locally, and millions of people are affected worldwide. For World Hepatitis Day on Friday 28th July, we want to raise awareness of the risks of hepatitis to promote prevention, early detection, and effective treatment.

There are five main types of hepatitis, each caused by a different virus, and they vary in terms of how serious they are and how they can be passed on. Hepatitis A and E are usually transmitted through contaminated food or water and are not common un the UK. Hepatitis D only affects individuals already infected with hepatitis B. It tends to worsen the outcomes of hepatitis B infection.

The two main hepatitis viruses that effect people in the UK are:

  • Hepatitis B spreads through infected body fluids, such as blood and sexual contact. If left untreated, hepatitis B can lead to severe liver damage, including liver disease and liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through contact with infected blood, often linked to sharing needles or receiving blood transfusions. Many people who use drugs are at risk and can be effected by it. Like hepatitis B, it can also cause chronic liver disease. Hepatitis C is treatable although no vaccine for hepatitis C is available. Medicines can cure most cases of hepatitis C.

Five things you can do to lower your risk of getting seriously ill from hepatitis B and C

  1. You can get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B to prevent infection. We provide hepatitis B vaccinations in our hubs.
  2. Get tested for Hepatitis C at one of our hubs in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. Find your nearest hub or give us a call 0330 303 8080
  3. Use condoms to reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted infections.
  4. People who share needles or drug equipment are at a higher risk of contracting hepatitis B and C as these viruses can be transmitted through infected blood. If you use needles for medical or recreational purposes, make sure they are new, sterile and not shared with others. You can use our free needle exchange services to ensure you have safe and sterile equipment. We even provide injecting advice and harm reduction techniques.
  5. Try to be more aware of how much alcohol you’re drinking and stay within the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week. Alcohol abuse can take a toll on the liver, making you more vulnerable to hepatitis related damage. Combining alcohol with certain medications for hepatitis treatment can be dangerous too.

How do I know if I might have hepatitis and what should I look out for?

Common symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Nausea, and loss of appetite

In some cases, hepatitis may present without any symptoms, making it crucial to get tested, especially if you are at risk due to potential exposure. i.e use of needles, sex working etc

Get access to testing and advice

All of our hubs offer testing for hepatitis and other blood borne viruses. If you receive support from us, we offer a £5 voucher as an incentive for you supporting us to eradicate hepatitis C by 2030.  Don’t wait. Give us a call or visit our hub today. Get tested and access lifesaving treatment.  It could save your life and others.

  • We are hosting an online session where you can get more information, register for our online workshop this Friday through Eventbrite.
  • Get access to testing and advice this week at one of our drop in testing events from 10am – 3pm. See details below for dates and locations.
    Wednesday 26th July – 209a Harrow Road, W2 5EH
    Thursday 27th July – Acorn Hall, 1 East Row, W10 5AW
    Friday 28th July – New Coach House, 370-376 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 7LL
    Friday 28th July – 32a Wardour Street, W1D 6QT
  • To find your nearest hub, follow this link to the DAWS page.

This blog was originally published by Turning Point. You can read the original post here.

Related articles:

Hepatitis C – The time to act is now (July 2023): Resources and videos on the campaign for Hepatitis C elimination.

On the Right Track (August 2023): Elliot Bidgood from the Hepatitis C Trust talks about the importance of key targets in the campaign to eliminate hepatitis c.

News (15 May 2023) NHS makes free confidential hep C tests available

Jobs – See current vacancies working in hepatitis c testing and treatment.

More on Hepatitis C in our archive.

DDN magazine is a free publication self-funded through advertising.

We are proud to work in partnership with many of the leading charities and treatment providers in the sector.

This content was created by Turning Point

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