On World Hepatitis Day we are asking people in Scotland to remember that Hepatitis C can affect anyone. 532 people in Scotland were infected with Hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of NHS treatment they received for a bleeding disorder containing the virus. In some cases they were also infected with HIV. Many are still living with chronic ill health as a result of these viruses despite previous attempts at treatment. New treatments for Hepatitis C are beginning to become available which offers the hope of clearing the virus. However, after years of living with the condition and the impact of unsuccessful treatment attempts, it is likely that many will require ongoing support.
Our friends at the Scottish Infected Blood Forum are conducting a scoping exercise on behalf of the Scottish Government to establish the support needs of those infected through blood products and of a similar number of people who were infected through contaminated blood transfusions. We are urging as many people as possible to complete the survey and take part in this exercise. The survey can be completed online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HepC-Scoping-Exercise.
Anyone who would like to know more about the tragedy of the contaminated blood disaster in Scotland has a wonderful opportunity this summer. Dogstar Theatre has produced an extremely powerful play about the impact of the infections seen through the eyes of two of those affected. We would like as many people as possible to see Factor 9 during the Edinburgh Fringe at the Summerhall. In many ways this has been a hidden disaster and we are very grateful to everyone involved in the production for telling the story. We are joining Dogstar and Scottish Charities working with people affected by Hepatitis C at a two day event in St Enoch’s Square, Glasgow (27th &28th) to raise awareness of the virus and tackle the stigma that can be associated with it.
The Scottish Government has established a Public Inquiry into the disaster under Lord Penrose. The Penrose Inquiry is expected to report in the autumn. It is our hope that the Final Report will not pull its punches. We will then look to the Scottish Government to rise to the challenge in their response and offer an appropriate end to this long running and bitter campaign for justice.