To celebrate World Hepatitis Day, and the news that hepatitis C can now been cured with tablet treatment, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited the hepatitis C testing centre run by King’s College Hospital London.
The London Mayor has joined forces with the London Joint Working Group on Hepatitis C, King’s College Hospital, The Hepatitis C Trust, and the Manna Centre to call upon Londoners to get tested for this once seen ‘silent killer’.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, which primarily affects the liver. People can live with hepatitis C for decades without symptoms but untreated cases can cause fatal cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is highly prevalent amongst homeless people. This group of people face additional barriers to getting tested and treated due to a lack of permanent address and difficulty accessing secondary care services.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
If left untreated, the hepatitis C virus can be extremely damaging but, once diagnosed, it can be managed quickly and effectively, enabling patients to make a full recovery.
This is why I’m urging all Londoners in high-risk groups or those who might be experiencing symptoms of hepatitis C to get tested.
Every Londoner deserves access to quality healthcare and this testing van offers a way to reach some of our most vulnerable communities. Working in partnership across the capital we want to ensure nobody is left behind and to strive together to eliminate hepatitis C in London.
Angelina Bass, who volunteers with The Hepatitis C Trust, added:
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2005. I lived with the virus for over 12 years so know just how devastating hepatitis C is both mentally and physically. I was finally offered treatment in 2016 when I was given a three-month course of medication. In 2017 I was told I was hepatitis C negative which was such a relief. It felt amazing.
Public Health England estimate there are 14,200 people living with hepatitis C in London and 113,000 people with the virus in England, around half of whom are undiagnosed. NHS England has set an ambition to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat in England by 2025, ahead of the World Health Organisation global goal of 2030.
Image credit: London Mayor Sadiq Khan at Kings College London Testing Centre