HUNDREDS of people attending Friday prayers have been given the chance to take a potentially life-saving test.
Worshippers at Madani Jamia Mosque in Victoria Road, Lockwood, were offered a simple risk assessment which showed whether they needed a Hepatitis C screening test which could ultimately save their life.
The tests were carried out by a mobile unit from The Hepatitis C Trust, a patient-led and run charity. With back-up from local health services and community groups, the Trust provided information about the virus and helped those who took the test to understand whether they or not need to visit their GP for a blood test.
Shabana Begum, South Asian Officer from The Hepatitis C Trust, who was successfully treated for the virus she contracted after medical treatment in Pakistan, said: “It is vital that everyone is aware of Hepatitis C, regardless of their ethnicity.
“We find that people don’t talk openly about the issue because there is a lot of stigma surrounding hepatitis in the community. This must be tackled urgently to prevent needless deaths.”
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can go undetected for many years because people are often symptomless. If left untreated, the virus can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer, but it can be effectively treated if caught early.
In Yorkshire, there are an estimated 22,130 people living with Hepatitis C, but around half are undiagnosed. The virus affects millions of people all over the world, but is particularly common amongst the South Asian population, due to unsterile medical procedures and vaccinations.
In some parts of the UK, Hepatitis C is five times more common in South Asians that in the wider population.