Unit helps South Yorkshire hepatitis C sufferers get crucial diagnosis and reduce risk of life-threatening liver damage

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A mobile clinic unit which could help more people with hepatitis C live a disease-free future will be visiting Devonshire Green on Thursday January 26 and Hanfia Masjid mosque, 372 Sheffield Road, Tinsley on Friday January 27.

Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. If untreated, it can cause serious and life-threatening damage to the liver, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. However, big improvements in the way treatments are given have seen average cure rates rise to around 95%. Yet many people fail to attend clinic appointments to receive treatment. This is due to a wide range of reasons, including lack of information about new treatments. People have also requested care closer to home.

Now a team of experts from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will be on hand in their mobile clinic unit from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 January so that people can get tested, offered free advice and undergo a non-invasive FibroScan® to measure liver scarring (fibrosis).

Ray Poll, Nurse Consultant in Viral Hepatitis at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “The good news is that advances in treatment mean that most people can be cured of hepatitis C by taking a 12-week course of tablets with few side effects. Only a small number of people still need weekly injections of interferon. Furthermore, many people have hepatitis C without realising it because, even if they do have symptoms, they are non-specific and may be mistaken for lifestyle factors or another condition. This free, confidential service will provide you with on-the-spot advice which could provide you with a crucial diagnosis, information and reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening liver damage.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals has a wealth of expertise in managing and treating Hep C, and supports services across Doncaster, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield, Barnsley and Rotherham so that more people can access vital treatment. The team also provides patients with advice and support on making important changes to their lifestyles, including stopping smoking, weight loss and reducing alcohol intake as well as giving access to vital emotional and psychological support about dealing with the effects of living with a chronic illness.

Around 215,000 people in the UK are believed to have hepatitis C. Symptoms can include: flu-like symptoms, such as fever, night sweats, headaches, feeling tired, loss of appetite, and feeling sick. The only way to know for certain if these symptoms are caused by hepatitis C is to get tested.

Hepatitis C is a virus spread through blood-to-blood contact. The main ways it can be passed on include:

injecting illicit drugs (even if only once or twice)

receiving blood (before 1991) or blood products (before 1986) in the UK

contact with contaminated blood in healthcare settings abroad for example, countries in South Asia and Eastern Europe

unprotected sex between men

For enquiries about the Hepatitis C service and treatment at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, please contact Dr Ray Poll, Nurse Consultant for Viral Hepatitis on 0114 271 3561.

For other sources of information about treatments, testing and the condition visit: The Hep C Trust Click here and the British Liver Trust Click here