HIV in the UK: 1 in 5 people infected don’t know they have it.
Hepatitis B in the UK: 1 in 350 people are infected.
Hepatitis C in the UK: Half of those infected don’t know they have it.
That’s why we’re encouraging hospitals to test for these three viruses to everyone having bloods in the emergency department.
HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can all remain symptom-free for several years when you first become infected.
Early diagnosis can allow people to lead a healthy life – and reduces the risk of transmission to others.
“A simple test can detect these viruses that will otherwise lay dormant, infecting others
and storing up ill health for the future,” says Dr Steve Taylor, Medical Director of Saving Lives.
“The public simply need to take the three-in-one test – and as doctors, we need to offer it!”
Saving Lives is extremely proud and excited to be supporting Barts Health NHS Trust’s excellent ‘Going Viral’ project. Barts Health is spearheading an NHS first by offering ‘three- in-one’ testing for HIV/HCV/HBV to all A&E attendees who are having bloods taken during 13-20 October 2014 in 10 A&E’s (5 London sites , 2 Essex sites, 1 Leeds, 1 Leicester and 1 Glasgow site). The A&E’s were chosen for high prevalence of the three viruses.
All three viruses are silent killers and people can live with them for many years without feeling unwell. That’s why in this country, at least 50% of those tested positive for the three viruses are late diagnoses. Viral hepatitis is an ever increasing cause for liver transplantation and the deaths attributable have doubled since 1996. With HIV, 80% of those who die in the first year since diagnosis are diagnosed late.
This campaign is needed because, with the exception of antenatal care, there is no screening programme for Hep C or B in hospitals or GP’s . HIV testing does happen in some A&E’s but not in nearly as many as it should . Although the viruses are transmitted in many similar ways , no joint screening approach has yet been taken in the UK. Being diagnosed is also important to limit onward transmission and give partners of those with hepatitis B the chance to be vaccinated.
There has never been a better time to test: treatments are tolerable, effective and convenient to take . Hepatitis C can be cured in almost everyone within 3-six short months . It’s not all about treatment , just knowing you have hepatitis gives you the choice to limit alcohol consumption and slow the progression of the disease.
We wish to show that is feasible, practical and effective to screen in Accident and Emergency departments and that we can link the new diagnoses to medical care and allow people to live longer , healthier lives.
Tom Wilkinson , Richard Wilson, Tim Westwood, Annie Lennox, Sadie Frost and Elton John Foundation are kindly supporting the campaign through a combination of personal visits, social media and quotes.