Doncaster people who are at risk of developing viral hepatitis are being urged to take a free test.
Aspire Drug and Alcohol Service is raising awareness of its screening programme for both Hepatitis B and C to mark World Hepatitis Day 2016 (Thursday 28 July).
Aspire Team Leader Helen Owen said: “Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, and the most common forms are B and C, which can be spread person-to-person.
“Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids and can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.
“There is a vaccination that can prevent infection, but many people are unsure if they’ve already been immunised, or if they require a booster.
“If you have not been vaccinated, to reduce chances of exposure it is best to use condoms, and to avoid sharing needles or items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.
“Staff at our Single Point of Access at Rosslyn House, on Thorne Road, and our hubs in Bentley, Mexborough and Stainforth are able to carry out a simple blood test to check if people have been immunised, and if not they can arrange for vaccinations to be given.”
Helen added: “We can also arrange for people to have a test for Hepatitis C, which is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact.
“Those most at risk are people who share injecting equipment, but it can also be passed on if people are sharing other equipment for taking drugs – such as spoons and filters.
“It can also be passed on if people share a toothbrush or razor with someone who is infected.
“It may be that the early symptoms are not noticed, so it could be many years before someone notices the symptoms.
“There is no vaccine against Hepatitis C, but it is treatable, so it’s really important that anyone who thinks they may have put themselves at risk is tested.
“Our staff can also give other information and advice about preventing harm from injecting drugs.”
For a confidential chat about hepatitis testing, or drug or alcohol issues please ring (01302) 730956, people can also visit Aspire’s Live Chat at www.aspire.community