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Ministers launch campaign to promote hepatitis C testing

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The Scottish Government has created a new scheme encouraging people at risk of hepatitis C virus to come forward for testing.

The Government hopes to get 2,000 new people into treatment per year through the launch of a new advertising campaign.

Groups they are particularly keen to target are those who may have shared items with an infected person such as razors, or people who underwent blood transfusions before 1982.

Public health minister Shona Robison said: “Although most people contract hepatitis C through injecting drug-use, eight in 10 people currently infected are not currently injecting drugs.

“The main aim of this campaign is to get more people to come forward for testing.

“However, it will also dispel some myths surrounding hep C - for instance, you can’t catch hep C through saliva and in the main it’s spread through blood-to-blood contact.”

She said it can be treated and completely cleared in up to 80% of cases, reducing liver damage and complications.

Hepatitis C is a virus carried in the blood which can lead to scarring on the liver, liver cancer or liver failure.

About 200,000 people in the UK are thought to have long-term hepatitis C and around half of those are undiagnosed, often showing no symptoms.

In Scotland, about 40,000 people have the virus but about 60% of those are undiagnosed, the Government said.

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