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07:24 | 19th October 2017

News: UK

Thu 26 Aug, 2010
By Sam Bristowe


We want to encourage HIV-positive men to ask about Hep C at their clinics and ensure they get tested for the virus

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GMFA tackles rise in Hepatitis C infections among HIV-positive gay men

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Approximately 250,000 to 600,000 people in the UK have Hepatitis C and only 55,000 have been diagnosed, according to treatment activist group HIV i-Base1. That means up to 91% of people with Hepatitis C may be undiagnosed.

There have been a growing number of cases of Hepatitis C infection in HIV-positive men, and much of this increase is now understood to be due to sexual transmission2. If left untreated, this can lead to an increased risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer and even premature death.



GMFA, the gay men’s health charity, is launching an advertising campaign to make HIV-positive men aware of the health risks of Hepatitis C and HIV co-infection, how it is transmitted, and the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment for those with Hepatitis C. According to i-Base, about 5% of HIV-positive people in the UK are co-infected with Hepatitis C, including over 400 HIV-positive gay men in London and Brighton who have caught Hepatitis C sexually over the last four years.

GMFA’s campaign will highlight a number of ways that Hepatitis C can be transmitted, including fisting, sharing sex toys, sharing pots of lube, and fucking without condoms. In group sex, Hepatitis C is often spread from one man to another (one arse to another arse) if condoms aren’t changed between partners or if sex toys are used on one man and then another. It can also be transmitted by sharing drug-injecting needles or snorting straws.

Matthew Hodson, Head of Programmes at GMFA, says: “We want to encourage HIV-positive men to ask about Hep C at their clinics and ensure they get tested for the virus. Hep C often shows no symptoms and most people who get infected will not be able to get rid of it without treatment. By getting diagnosed early, you can start treatment and stand the best chance of overcoming the virus.”



Hepatitis C transmission is often associated with fisting and group sex. You can protect against the virus by using gloves if you fist and changing the glove between partners, using a new condom for each new partner if you have group sex, not sharing pots of lube, and using a new condom for each new partner if you share sex toys.

GMFA’s adverts will run in the gay press from August to December 2010. The charity will also distribute information leaflets to HIV and GU clinics across the UK and run banner adverts on gay websites.

Matthew adds: “Up to a third of HIV clinics may not yet be testing their patients for Hepatitis C annually. It’s important for HIV-positive men to understand the need for them to be screened for Hep C and to request the test at their clinic.”

Press Release: GMFA

 

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