Edinburgh Reporter (07.17.2013)
“The Big Red C,” a new hepatitis C campaign in Scotland, targets the estimated 18,000 infected Scottish people who are not aware they have the disease. The campaign features a two-meter high red C, which currently is on display at St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Several hepatitis charities back the NHS Health Scotland-supported campaign. The campaign slogan, “Ever injected? Get tested. Hep C—it can be cured,” highlights the risks for anyone who ever injected drugs and encourages them to get tested.
Hepatitis C virus can cause liver damage, potentially leading to cirrhosis, cancer, and death; however, symptoms might not appear for many years. According to Leon Wylie, lead officer of Hepatitis Scotland, “Hepatitis C is a major health challenge in Scotland. It is vitally important that anyone who has ever injected drugs, even once, accesses testing.” He added that “up to 15,000 of those 18,000 estimated to be infected are no longer injecting drugs. So people who used or experimented with injecting drugs in the 70s, 80s, and 90s—the so-called Baby Boomer and Generation X—may not be aware that they could be carrying the virus. This makes them one of the key target groups for the new campaign.”
Wylie encouraged people to get tested at their doctors’ offices or a local sexual health clinic, adding, “[It] is just an easy pin-prick blood test.” Additional campaign components include a text-back service (text “hep” to 66644) and a new Web site that provides basic information about hepatitis C and links to more detailed information such as where to get tested and where to find support services.