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A new campaign to tackle the ‘silent epidemic’ of hepatitis B and C amongst British Pakistanis

Wednesday 30 April 2014

A new campaign to tackle the high rates of hepatitis B and C among the UK's Pakistani community has been launched by Maslaha, an organization which seeks to deal with the most pressing social issues effecting Asian communities, and the Blizard Institute at QMUL and the Hepatitis C Trust. Maslaha, with funding from Barts Charity, has launched the website understandhepbandc.org with films in English and Urdu as part of a campaign to encourage British Pakistanis to UNDERSTAND, PREVENT and GET TESTED for hepatitis B and C.

Recent research suggests that 1 in 20 people born in Pakistan and living in the UK has chronic viral hepatitis, yet many people go untested due to a lack of awareness by community members as well as GPs and medical staff.

The viruses can be fatal, but are also ‘silent’ as people often don’t show any symptoms – some people may have contracted the virus 20-30 years before and not be aware. The risk factors for the Pakistani community relate to mother-to-child transmission for hepatitis B, and unsterile medical and dental practices in Pakistan and other developing countries for hepatitis C. This includes unsterile injections, transfusions, vaccinations, haircuts, and nose and ear piercing. For Muslims, care must also be taken around shaving babies’ hair, undertaken seven days after birth, and also boys’ circumcision.

Maslaha, with funding from Barts Charity, has launched the website understandhepbandc.org with films in English and Urdu as part of a campaign to encourage British Pakistanis to UNDERSTAND, PREVENT and GET TESTED for hepatitis B and C. The films combine medical and cultural references to encourage early testing and decrease stigma. As hepatitis B is controllable, and hepatitis C can be curable, a simple blood test could save lives.

For more information and to watch the films, visit: understandhepbandc.org.

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