Taranaki DHB offers free Hepatitis C testing for World Hepatitis Day

22 July 2021

It’s estimated over 1,000 people in Taranaki are living with Hepatitis C (hep C) however, due to symptoms often not appearing for many years, half of them may be unaware they have it.

Taranaki DHB is raising awareness for this year’s World Hepatitis Day by offering free hep C testing to Find, Test, Treat and Cure these people.

World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on 28 July. This year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait,” with a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness around the world – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis.

Dr Nadja Gottfert says free pop-up hep C testing clinics are being stood up across the country to make it quick and easy for at-risk Kiwis to get tested for the virus and Taranaki is joining the drive.
“Pop-up clinics are one way we can work towards eliminating the hep C virus from the Taranaki community.

“Around 45,000 New Zealanders have hepatitis C, but many don’t know as the symptoms can be subtle like tiredness, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain” says Nadja.

Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood-to-blood activities that pierce the skin. You are at increased risk if you have:

  • ever injected drugs
  • ever received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment
  • had a blood transfusion before 1992
  • ever lived or received medical treatment in a high-risk country
  • ever been in prison
  • been born to a mother living with hepatitis C
  • had jaundice or abnormal liver test.

Nadja says “The most common way of getting hepatitis C is through activities related to intravenous drug use. So if you have ever injected, even if it was only once back in the day, you should get tested.”

“Hep C is serious. It can lead to liver disease and/or cancer, and if left untreated it can be deadly. But with new, better and easier treatment hep C can be cured.”

“It doesn’t matter how you got hep C, what’s important is getting cured so you can get on with your life.”

PHARMAC funds a hep C treatment called Maviret, which has the potential to cure more than 98% of cases in 8 to 12 weeks.

“The biggest challenge now is finding those people who don’t know they have the virus so we can treat them. The only way to know if you have hep C is to get tested, so we encourage people to contact their GP or come along to one of our free pop-up clinics” says Nadja.

Details of the free pop-up clinics happening in Taranaki:

  • Taranaki Base Hospital, Alcohol and Drug department, Monday 26 July, 9am-3pm 
  • Hāwera Hospital, Monday 26 July, 9am-3pm 
  • Needle Exchange,  25 Eliot Street, New Plymouth, Wednesday 28 July, 10am-3pm

Last updated: Thursday, July 22, 2021

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