The Hepatitis C Trust yesterday held a highly successful awareness-raising and testing event in Glasgow. The event, which The Hepatitis C Trust staged alongside Waverley Care, was aimed at South Asian communities in Glasgow, who are at particular risk from the virus.
Staged at the Napiershall Street Centre, the event comprised of a short introduction from Hanzala Malik MSP, who hosted the event, before a talk from Shabana Begum, South Asian Officer at The Hepatitis C Trust. Shabana provided an overview of the virus, and why it is a particular issue among South Asian communities, before detailing her personal experiences of being diagnosed with, living with, and subsequently cured of the virus. Waverley Care were then on hand to provide testing to attendees, with 70 people being tested.
A 2013 study showed that people of South Asian origin in Glasgow, particularly those born outside the UK, are at significantly higher risk from hepatitis C than the rest of the population. It found that 3.1% of people involved in the study who lived in Glasgow but were born in Pakistan were infected with hepatitis C; a prevalence rate which is several times higher than the rest of the population. People of South Asian origin may be particularly at risk if they have received medical treatment in high prevalence countries such as Pakistan, where medical practices can often not be as rigorous as those in the UK, and where there is a risk of transmission via unsterilised needles and other medical equipment.
Hanzala Malik MSP, who hosted the event, said:
“This event was a great way of raising awareness of hepatitis C among the South Asian community, who are disproportionately affected by the virus, and of delivering quick and accessible testing. Hepatitis C is preventable, treatable and curable yet large numbers of people are still undiagnosed. I am delighted to work with The Hepatitis C Trust, Waverley Care and other partners involved in tackling the virus in Glasgow and across Scotland.”
Shabana Begum, South Asian Officer at The Hepatitis C Trust, said:
“Hepatitis C is a significant issue across South Asian communities in the UK, but low levels of awareness and stigma can often represents barriers to diagnosis. Our event was all about improving levels of awareness and encouraging people to talk about hepatitis C. The more people that are aware of it and speak openly about it in the community, the most will be tested, diagnosed and treated, and the quicker we can eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern.”