by Medindia Content Team on  September 27, 2006 at 3:32 PM General Health News
Scotlandís Fight against Hepatitis C Boosted by £4m
Scottish ministers have announced a £4 million cash boost to fight the spread of the deadly Hepatitis C virus.

The cash is expected to go towards stemming Scotland's high rates of the infection as well as towards providing care and treatment to sufferers.

It has been estimated that about 20,000 people have been infected with Hepatitis C in Scotland. It is said to be a "silent killer" among Scotland's drug users - in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Over 1,000 people may be unaware that they have been infected with the virus because an individual can carry the virus for many years before it is discovered.

Almost £1.4million is expected to be targeted in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area over two years. These areas have been found to have about 40% of the diagnosed cases of the infection in Scotland.

The number of diagnosed cases in Greater Glasgow was 7290 and in the former Argyll and Clyde, 1370 - a total of 8660 out of the 20,000 estimated total as of December 2005 In Scotland alone an estimated 50,000 or one per cent of the population - have been infected with Hepatitis C which is double the UK rate.

Scottish Health Minister Andy Kerr stated the need for an action plan to tackle the problem head on was needed urgently.

He said, "Scotland has the highest prevalence of the virus in the UK. Early diagnosis of the virus will reduce transmission to others, limit the rate of liver damage and prevent long-term complications. Rates are particularly high among former and current injecting drug users and testing is particularly important for this group. Action will be focused on making more information available to them on the risks of transmission and increasing the availability of needles, to prevent sharing."

According to Mr Kerr the money would be distributed round Scotland's health boards depending upon the rates of Hepatitis C in their areas.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's Interim Director of Public Health Dr Linda de Caestecker said, "We now plan to set up a multidisciplinary group to set targets for primary prevention, treatment, care and support. This includes extensive needle exchange services, comprehensive addiction services, testing, treatment and care."

Professor David Goldberg of Health Protection Scotland described the announcement as a 'visionary plan.'

He said: "It recognises that Hepatitis C poses one of Scotland's greatest public health challenges and addresses the need to review strategy and resources relating to its prevention and diagnosis."

Source: Medindia

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