At risk Kiwis urged to get tested for Hep C

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: RNZ.

Pop-up hepatitis C testing clinics are being set up across Aotearoa New Zealand on World Hepatitis Day tomorrow, to make it quick and easy for at risk Kiwis to get tested for the virus.  

Around 45,000 New Zealanders are living with hepatitis C.

However, due to symptoms often not appearing for many years, half of them may be unaware they have it, says a statement from the Ministry of Health.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that attacks the liver and can lead to cancer.

“The virus is a major public health threat in New Zealand. Around 1000 people contract hepatitis C every year and 200 people die from it. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplantation in New Zealand and the second leading cause of liver cancer (behind hepatitis B).

“There is now a highly effective treatment that can cure up to 98 per cent of those with chronic hepatitis C, but to achieve elimination we must ensure that everyone who has the virus is diagnosed so they can receive this treatment.

“At risk people include those who have ever injected drugs, received a tattoo or body piercing using un-sterile equipment, received medical treatment in a high-risk country, had a blood transfusion before 1992 or been born to a mother with hepatitis C.”

World Hepatitis Day will also see the launch of the National Hepatitis C Action Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand which focuses on awareness raising, prevention, testing and treatment of hepatitis C.

The Action Plan will be published on the Ministry of Health website on World Hepatitis Day – 28 July 2021.

Pop-up clinics

Refer to the Ministry’s website for details of the pup-up testing clinics which will be open from Wednesday.

Anyone who is at risk can also arrange a test through their GP.

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