Plummer Court hosts drop-in for Hepatitis Awareness Week

People who use services at Plummer Court, Newcastle, can pop in any time this week for a cuppa, a biscuit, and to learn more about hepatitis and new hepatitis C treatments.

NHS staff at the Plummer Court, which is on Carilol Place in the city centre, are running a drop-in every day this week ahead of World Hepatitis Day on Friday (28 July). There’s information about hepatitis, as well as the chance to get tested, vaccinated or get a booster, should people so wish.

We can also tell you more about new treatments for hepatitis C. These newer treatments involve taking tablets, have been shown to have fewer side effects, and are less invasive than previous medication available. Combinations of tablets now have a cure rate of more than 90%. (Source: NHS Choices)

And any service user who does drop in will automatically be entered into a raffle to win one of a range of toiletry hampers and gift sets, kindly provided by local pharmacies.

Assistant Practitioner Simon Johnston said: “This week is mainly about spreading the word about hepatitis and especially these newer treatments for hepatitis C, which are more effective and less invasive than older ones.  For people who would like to be tested we can do that too, using a very quick and simple finger blood spot test in the first instance.

As well as screening, we can also provide vaccinations against Hepatitis B or boosters if anyone needs them.

“If you’re not sure if any of these might be right for you, please do just drop in. We can pop the kettle on and have an informal chat over a cuppa about the virus, and what support we can offer you.”

Currently 90% of people living with Hepatitis B and 80% living with Hepatitis C don’t know they have it. This can lead to a real possibility of developing fatal liver disease later in life, or unknowingly passing on the virus to others.

Getting tested at Plummer Court couldn’t be simpler. In the first instance people can do a finger blood spot test for Hepatitis A, B and C, and HIV. It takes barely 30 seconds and will come back showing if a virus is detected or not. If appropriate, staff can also screen by taking bloods.

Charge Nurse Kieran McIvor said: “Many people can be put off getting tested because there’s still a lot of stigma around the virus and people aren’t aware of these newer, more effective hepatitis C treatments.

By running the drop-in this week, we hope to share more information about hepatitis and prompt conversations with people about the virus. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get the information they need to look after themselves and their loved ones. Please do drop by for a chat – we just want to spread the word as much as we can.”

The drop-in is available to Plummer Court service users between 9.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday this week.

How is hepatitis C spread?

People can become infected with hepatitis C if they come into contact with the blood of an infected person. This might happen through injecting drugs, or sharing equipment used for preparing or taking drugs, such as spoons, filters, pipes, or even equipment used for snorting cocaine. Hepatitis C can also be spread through unprotected sex.

You can’t get hepatitis C from kissing, social contact (such as hugging), sharing kitchen utensils, or toilet seats.

For more information about Hepatitis and World Hepatitis Day, see http://www.worldhepatitisday.org