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New campaign tackles high rates of hep C & B among the UK's Pakistani community

A new website has been launched to encourage people of British Pakistani origin to understand, prevent and get tested for hepatitis C and B.

understandhepbandc.org includes films in both Urdu and English combining both medical and cultural references to encourage early testing and decrease stigma.

Supported by The Hepatitis C Trust and the Association of Pakistani Physicians and Surgeons (APPS), an international network of medical staff working to address health inequalities, the short films explain why the British Pakistani community is at particular risk and the precautions that can be taken when travelling between the UK and Pakistan.

Understand hep B and C

Dr. Mohammed Iqbal, chair of APPS, says: “Hepatitis does not always present with symptoms, and appearance of symptoms may be too late for prevention of liver disease."

Amongst the British Pakistani community, hepatitis C is most commonly transferred through poor medical and dental practices in Pakistan and other developing countries. 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.

Professor Graham Foster, consultant hepatologist at the Blizard Institute in Whitechapel, says: “People should go to their family doctor, their GP, and ask for a blood test. We know that people born outside the UK are at high risk; we know that people can live for many years feeling perfectly well and then die of liver disease. Testing only takes a few minutes and really could save your life.”

Log on to http://www.understandhepbandc.org/