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Hepatitis C and HIV testing in Co.Clare - Press Release

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FOR ALL YOU PEOPLE IN OR AROUND Co.CLARE....(p.s we also continue to do testing in our offices!)

There is a cure for Hepatitis C

One tablet a day for 12 weeks with little or no side effects, and this treatment is playing a big part in Ireland’s plan to eliminate Hepatitis C by the year 2030. On average, in Ireland, around 600 people a year are newly diagnosed with Hepatitis C. These infections might not be new, as it is possible to live with Hep C for 30 years or more without obvious symptoms, but those 600 people did not know they were living with a potentially fatal infection until they were tested.

Currently in Ireland it is estimated that over 30,000 people have been diagnosed with Hep C and only 3,000 have been treated. This means that there is approximately 27,000 people in Ireland who could be cured of Hep C. It is also estimated that another 20,000 people may well be living with Hep C but not know about it.

The only way to know whether you have Hep C or not is to be tested. GOSHH have been providing Hep C tests to people since 2015. The testing service has been steadily growing and is contributing to finding unknown cases of Hep C within the community as well as linking people back in with medical care, so they can access treatment.

According to the 2017 Annual Report on Hepatitis C from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, the median average age for males and females to be diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2017 was 40-41 years old. 10% of these new cases were likely to have been sexually transmitted but many people have no knowledge of where their Hep C could have come from.

In describing the testing process Elaine Dalton of NCCWN Clare Women’s Network said “I was really frightened when I took a look back at the kind of relationships I had been in. It turns out the rapid test is very easy to do, and I was really glad I did it”. Not only is it very accurate but the results are also available immediately. Of course, GOSHH also offer full support for people around their test results. Kerry Bray, a local woman who was cured of Hepatitis C in 2017 said “Living with Hep C is hard, and you don’t realise how difficult it has been until you have had the treatment. It is tiring, so tiring. I am really open about my experience, but others feel ashamed and afraid. It is no longer a life sentence. There is a cure and it works on any genotype. The type of Hep C I had was the most aggressive, the treatment still worked.”

Billie Stoica, the rapid testing coordinator at GOSHH stated “If someone is tested, and treated, Hep C can be cured. I think it is important that everyone gets tested, and Clare is often forgotten, that’s why we are teaming up with community based groups in Clare, to provide updated information and testing.” NCCWN Clare Women’s Network are hosting a Hepatitis C information session, on the morning of Wednesday 20th March where Billie and Kerry will be on hand to answer questions and clarify issues.

This will be followed by a free Rapid Hep C and HIV testing session on Tuesday 26th March from 10.30am – 12.30pm.
Full testing information is available through or by calling 061314354. If you wish to talk to someone about Hepatitis C testing or general sexual health, GOSHH is open from 9.15am – 5pm, Monday through to Friday.

Wednesday 20th March

10.30 – 12.00 Hepatitis C information update for friends and families
Tuesday 26th March
10.30 – 12.30 Hepatitis C + HIV rapid testing and support

NCCWN Clare Women’s Network,
Education and Training Centre,
Clonroad Business Park,
Co. Clare.

Thursday 21st March
12.30pm - 2.30pm Hepatitis C information update for friends and families
Thursday 28th March
12.30pm - 2.30pm Hepatitis C + HIV rapid testing and support

Killaloe/Ballina Family and Community resource Centre,
Green Hill,

Where information was available:
• 44% (n=124) of cases were born in Ireland
• 34% (n=96) were born in central or eastern Europe
• Risk factor data were only available for half of the cases

Who needs to get tested?
Key populations for HIV testing

Key populations at higher risk in Europe vary from country to country, but in general they include:
• Men who have sex with men
• Injecting drug users (including steroids, heroin, crack, speed….even if you have only done it once)
• Sex workers (and anyone who has exchanged sex for goods, services, accommodation or money)
• Migrants (including persons originating from a high prevalence country) and mobile populations
• People who have been in prison
• Sexual partners of any of these people

Key populations for Hepatitis C testing
The key populations at higher risk of Hepatitis are the same as those for HIV, above. In addition, those at increased risk of living with undiagnosed Hepatitis C include:
• People on long-term haemodialysis
• People who have received blood, blood products, or organs before screening for Hepatitis C was implemented, or where
screening is not yet widespread
• Healthcare workers
• People who have had medical care abroad in at risk countries
• Other types of drug users including people who have snorted drugs
• People affected by homelessness
• Sexual partners of any of these people

Annual Epidemiological Report, Hepatitis C in Ireland, 2017.

Updated 14-03-19 at 17:14 by GOSHH

Tags: goshh, hep c, hiv, testing