Quick test on offer to check for debilitating but curable illness

A team of health experts will be out and about in Brigg and across North Lincolnshire this month in a bid to find and test people who may be at risk of a curable liver disease – Hepatitis C.

The blood borne virus infects the liver’s cells and if left untreated damages the way it works. It is one of the leading causes of liver cancer and liver transplants. You can also pass it on to other people.

The Hepatitis C community ‘hit’ event began yesterday, April 19, and will run until April 29.

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Clinical nurse specialist in Hepatitis C, Clare Robinson, who is based at Scunthorpe hospital, will be out testing during the two-week event. She said: “We want to encourage people to come forward who think they may have put themselves at risk, as the virus is passed through blood.

Specialist nurse Clare Robinson

“So, anyone who has shared razors, toothbrushes, or clippers, have tattoos/piercings, has shared injecting equipment or other paraphernalia for smoking, had unprotected sex or has received blood products could all be at risk.”

The symptoms of chronic Hepatitis C include: tiredness/flu like symptoms; depressions, mood swings, difficulty concentrating; lack of appetite, indigestion, bloating; stomach pains; joint and muscle pains and itchy skin; jaundice (a condition in which the skin, whites of the eyes and mucous membranes turn yellow).

A number of drop in sessions will be held across North Lincolnshire, running from 10am to 4pm at each venue.

They are:

- Ironstone car park on Friday, April 22

- Barton’s Viking Centre on Monday, April 25

- Barton Fire Station on Tuesday, April 26

– Scunthorpe town centre on Wednesday, April 27

- Brigg Old Court car park on Thursday April 28

- The Arc at Westcliff on Friday, April 29.

People can also drop into the With You – North Lincs office, which is located on 189-195 High Street in Scunthorpe at any time between 9am and 5pm during the two weeks.

Clare said: “All you need to do is pop along.

“We will be offering a simple finger prick or oral swab test, which will provide us with results within 20 minutes.

“If it does come back positive, then we will carry out a second simple test to see if the virus is active.”

Clare continued: “The good news is, people will find out quickly and be referred to Scunthorpe hospital so they can get the treatment they need to prevent further damage to their liver.”

She said patients were historically put off from seeking treatment as it had debilitating side effects, likened to being on chemotherapy.

However, the good news is, this treatment is no longer used.

Treatment is now in tablet form.

It has minimal side effects and also has a cure rate of 96 per cent.

The scheme will be rolled out to Grimsby in May.