Glasgow Gears Up For Hepatitis Summit

28 July 2015, 05:47 | Updated: 28 July 2015, 06:12

Scots who may have been at risk of hepatitis C are being encouraged to get tested as Glasgow prepares to host the first World Hepatitis Summit.

There are an estimated 37,500 people in Scotland living with hepatitis C and around half of those people do not know they have the virus.

Treatments are available which can cure the infection in the majority of people affected.

The HepCScot campaign said about 90% of people with hepatitis C will have had a history of injecting drug use but people who received blood products before 1991 should also get tested.

Today is World Hepatitis Day, a United Nations-recognised day to raise awareness of viral hepatitis.

Experts from across the globe will meet in Glasgow for the first World Hepatitis Summit at the SECC on September 2.

The three-day gathering hosted by the Scottish Government will look at efforts to tackle viral hepatitis, which is associated with 1.4 million deaths a year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "World Hepatitis Day raises awareness of the disease and encourages better access to treatment.

"We need governments across the world to come together to work to ensure effective prevention and treatment strategies are in place.

"Together with the World Health Organisation and the World Hepatitis Alliance we will welcome patients, policy-makers, public health experts, global funders and many others to Glasgow to meet and share ideas, and to build momentum in the fight against viral hepatitis.''

There are more than 400 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and C worldwide and the virus is classed as one of the top 10 causes of global deaths.

September's summit is supported by Health Protection Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Professor David Goldberg, of Health Protection Scotland, said: "We are delighted that the inaugural World Hepatitis Summit is being staged in Glasgow.

"The decision to hold it in Scotland reflects the efforts of so many service providers, including Scottish Government policy-makers, and service users in making Scotland's Hepatitis C Action Plan one which is admired throughout the world for its vision, investment and comprehensiveness.''

Sharon Hutchison, Glasgow Caledonian University's Professor of epidemiology and population health, said: "In association with Health Protection Scotland, we have led a broad programme of research on the burden of hepatitis C and interventions to prevent infection and associated disease, which provided the key evidence for the Scottish Government's Hepatitis C Action Plan.

"We are delighted to be involved in the forthcoming inaugural World Hepatitis Summit to help promote the development of hepatitis action plans in other countries and address the overwhelming global burden of viral hepatitis.''