This campaign is aimed at two key audiences – those who inject drugs, and those who may have been exposed anytime since the late 1970s.
Over 200 New Zealanders continue to die each year from hepatitis C even though we now have an easy test and an easy cure. Every single one of these deaths could have been prevented by earlier diagnosis and treatment.
One of the biggest challenges in getting people tested for hepatitis C is that the symptoms can be barely noticeable until a lot of damage has already been done, which means a lot of people living with the virus don’t realise they have it. There’s also stigma associated with hepatitis C because it’s transmitted through contact with infected blood, so at-risk people are often wary of talking to a health professional or seeking a test.
The National Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign has been developed carefully in partnership with health sector representatives, peer workers and people with lived experience of hepatitis C from across the motu.
We’ve chosen the theme of ‘Stick it to hep C’ – ‘Werohia te Atekakā C’ – for the campaign because all it takes to find out whether you’ve been exposed to hepatitis C is a quick and easy finger-prick test.
Getting tested is a win-win. If you’re negative, you can put your worries behind you right away. And if you do have hepatitis C, it can now be cured in just eight weeks for most people through a simple oral treatment that is completely free and has a success rate of up to 98%.
This awareness campaign is one of the key activities within the National Hepatitis C Action Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand, which was launched a year ago on World Hepatitis Day 2021 with the goal of eliminating hepatitis C as a major public health threat by 2030.