Raising awaress of Hepatitis

PUBLISHED: 14:59 25 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:15 28 May 2010

Karen Peacock

Karen Peacock

MONDAY is World Hepatitis Awareness Day and a March woman diagnosed in 2003 says the event is vital to help put the global problem in the spotlight. Karen Peacock said: Despite all the campaigning people just don t seem to know about the facts. It is dan

MONDAY is World Hepatitis Awareness Day and a March woman diagnosed in 2003 says the event is vital to help put the global problem in the spotlight.

Karen Peacock said: "Despite all the campaigning people just don't seem to know about the facts. It is dangerous when people leave it until they are ill to be tested, it can often be too late then.

"There are more people in the world with Hepatitis C than there is with HIV and Aids. You can die from it and we need these events to make people more aware. I am one of the lucky ones and my second course of treatment has cleared the virus."

The mother of two has always talked openly about her illness and has set up a support group in Fenland for fellow sufferers.

She said: "I was tested for Hep C after talking to a nurse about my past. She suggested I may be at risk and so should be tested. I have some tattoos, some done at home when I was 14, and piercings. When I was very young I remember doing 'blood brothers' with a cousin - nobody even considered that exchanging blood might be dangerous back then.

"I had never heard of hepatitis C before being tested and I had no idea what it was. I was told I had it over the phone. I had tiredness, irritability and joint pains for many years but because I suffered from an arthritic condition I assumed it was that.

"I tell everybody I have Hep C and have found people to be generally supportive. My kids have told their friends and there have been no problems."

The theme for this year's awareness day is 'Get Tested' and it is a message fully supported by Karen.

A meeting of the Fenland support group will be held at the Queen Mary Centre, Wisbech, on Friday (October 6) at 7pm.

FACTFILE

* Almost 600 million people around the world are infected with either Hepatitis B or C.

* Hepatitis C is a virus which can damage the liver. Most people who have it have no signs or symptoms at all for many years.

* Hepatitis C is carried in the blood. It is spread through contact with the blood of a person who already has it.

* You can't catch it through everyday contact such as holding hands, kissing, sharing toilets or kitchen utensils.

* Hepatitis C can be passed from a mother who has the virus, before or during the birth.

* Treatments are improving all the time and an available drug can cure the infection in about half the people treated.

* If you think you are at risk a test can find out if you are infected. Your doctor can carry out the test.

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