With ten years to go until the UK’s target date to eliminate hepatitis C, The Hepatitis C Trust has announced plans to make World Hepatitis Day 2020 the biggest yet. To mark the day, which takes place on 28th July, The Hepatitis C Trust’s staff and volunteers will be collectively climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest by climbing peaks across the UK to raise money for The Hepatitis C Trust and mental health charity Mind.
Having climbed the Yorkshire Three Peaks for World Hepatitis Day 2019, The Hepatitis C Trust staff and volunteers will this year collectively climb the equivalent of Mount Everest’s 8,848 metres, with groups tackling climbs from Scotland down to Devon. In line with The Hepatitis C Trust’s ambition to ‘leave no one behind’ on the way to hepatitis C elimination, those who cannot attend one of the outdoor climbs, including the Trust’s volunteer prison peers, will contribute by doing step-ups and climbing staircases. After completing the climb, those taking part will enjoy a socially distanced picnic, connecting with others across the country via video technology.
The sponsored climb is just one aspect of The Hepatitis C Trust’s plans for World Hepatitis Day. Plans are in place for local landmarks, including the Penshaw Monument and The Angel of the North, to be lit up purple to mark the day. The Hepatitis C Trust will be hosting a series of DJ sets livestreamed via Zoom on Sunday 26th July and peer support staff and volunteers will also be taking part in local testing and awareness-raising initiatives across the country during the week.
It is estimated that 143,000 people in the UK are living with hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus which can cause serious and even fatal damage to the liver if left untreated, among other health impacts. Despite this, around two-thirds of those with hepatitis C are living with an undiagnosed infection. The most common route of transmission is through sharing equipment for injecting drugs. Other risk factors include receiving medical and dental care in countries with poor sterilisation practices, tattooing in unlicensed premises, sexual activity involving blood-to-blood contact, and having received a blood transfusion or blood products through the NHS prior to 1991.
Referral for testing is available through GPs, and support and guidance is available from TheHepatitis C Trust via a helpline staffed by people with direct experience of hepatitis C. Since 2015, treatments with short durations, limited side-effects and cure rates upwards of 95% have been widely available. The UK is committed to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2030 at the latest.
Money raised through the World Hepatitis Day activity will be split between The Hepatitis C Trust’s peer-to-peer support volunteer programme and the mental health charity Mind, in recognition of the mental health impacts of lockdown restrictions and the crucial role Mind plays as a source of support for those experiencing mental health problems. You can find out more and donate here.