HIV Ireland Press Release for National Hepatitis C Awareness Week-14 July 2015


Three community groups working on behalf of people living in Ireland infected with hepatitis C came together today to launch the first National Hepatitis C Awareness Week, which will take place from July 27th to 31st.

Follow the Big Green C for the first ever National Hepatitis C Awareness Week

‘Cure This’ national roadshow aims to raise awareness of the disease and encourage greater levels of testing

Service Providers across the country urged to get involved and hold their own local awareness events

Press Release

Monday July 13th

Three community groups working on behalf of people living in Ireland infected with hepatitis C came together today to launch the first National Hepatitis C Awareness Week, which will take place from July 27th to 31st.

Community Response, HIV Ireland and UISCE are encouraging those concerned about hepatitis C, and those working with people living with hepatitis C, to get involved in the awareness events planned for the week and get informed about this often misunderstood disease. All three groups provide support and advocate on behalf of people with blood borne viruses.

The awareness week, which coincides with World Hepatitis Day on July 28th, will see a number of special awareness events take place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Athlone. A ‘Big Green C’ will travel to these areas to educate the public and encourage those who may be at risk of contracting hepatitis C, or who may have the disease and be unaware of this, to get tested.

The community groups are also calling on service providers across the country who want to hold events to mark the week to get in contact and sign up to participate. A specially created Events Pack is available for all service providers through the three community groups and for download at

Hepatitis C is transmitted from person to person through blood-to-blood contact. While some falsely believe that this is exclusively a consequence of sharing needles, there are many other ways that the virus can be transmitted, including unscreened infected blood and blood products (in countries without screening processes in place), needle stick injuries, acupuncture, body modification such as tattooing, piercing, steroids, Botox and tanning injections, where equipment used was not sterilised properly after being used on an infected person.1

Nicola Perry, Manager of Community Response said: “Hepatitis C is a vastly misunderstood illness and can be life threatening if left untreated. At Community Response we provide support for those infected with hepatitis C, particularly in inner city Dublin. But this is not just a Dublin problem. That is why we made the decision this year to take the campaign across the country to other urban areas to increase awareness, and we hope that as many service providers as possible from all over the country will get in touch with us to organise their own local awareness events.”

The two metre tall Big Green C, created especially to symbolise the magnitude of the disease, will raise awareness and promote the ‘Cure This’ message in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Athlone throughout the week with a number of events already planned in each area by local support groups. The National Hepatitis C Awareness Week roadshow will visit the following locations around Ireland in participation with local support groups:

    • Monday July 27th – North Earl Street, Dublin, with SAOL Project(Stability, Ability, Work and Learning)
    • Tuesday July 28th – Parnell Square, Athlone, with Merchants Quay Ireland
    • Wednesday July 29th – Bedford Row, Limerick, with GOSHH (Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV)
    • Thursday July 30th – Top of the Grand Parade, Cork, with Cork Drug and Alcohol Task Force and Southern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force.

Special event

A very special event will take place in Dublin on July 27th next to officially kick off the week. This will involve a performance from the High Hopes Choir. The High Hopes Choir is Ireland’s first ever choir to be made up of people who are directly affected by homelessness and the activities and profile of this remarkable organisation has been increasing regularly in recent times.

Speaking at the launch of the national awareness roadshow was Niall Mulligan, Director of HIV Ireland: “It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people in Ireland, right now, have hepatitis C and don’t know it. It is so easy to get tested, and to get treated. You just need to take that first step.  We urge anyone who is concerned about hepatitis C to contact us immediately for support and information on how and where to get tested.  Making that first step is crucial.”

The first ever National Hepatitis C Awareness Week is supported by the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie. To get involved in the campaign, take part in an awareness event, or to get more information on hepatitis C and testing, please visit Service providers are strongly encouraged to get in contact to organise their own events across the country – to organise a local event for National Hepatitis C Week please download the specially created events pack available here.

Emily Reaper of UISCE, added: “Sometimes people may not recognise that they have symptoms during the early stages of hepatitis C, which makes this such a deadly virus. It is important for people to be more aware of hepatitis C and we hope that this National Week of events will help to break the stigma that surrounds it. If you are concerned please reach out to us using – there is help and support available for everyone.”


For further information please contact:

Andrew Shaw or Lorraine Cronin, First Medical

087 752 5445 (AS) or 087 773 0361 (LC)

Notes to Editors:

About hepatitis C:

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver, causing it to become inflamed and not work as effectively in the body.2 Hepatitis C is a serious chronic illness that requires treatment, and is a curable disease for most. Hepatitis C testing is free at public testing clinics.2

You can get hepatitis C through contact with an infected person’s blood.2 The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is to get tested.2 Untreated hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, such as liver disease.2 Hepatitis C will not go away in about 4 out of every 5 people who become infected – it will become chronic and will require treatment.2


    1. HSE, National Hepatitis C Strategy, 2011-2014

About Community Response

Community Response was established in 1990, based in the Liberties in the South Inner City of Dublin and provides a comprehensive programme for primary alcohol and hepatitis C services. It offers a range of services in relation to hepatitis C, group support, one-to-one support and referral pathways to treatment. It also provides structured programmes for those affected by alcohol misuse, and support for family members.

About HIV Ireland

HIV Ireland is a registered charity operating at local, National and European level. The principal aim of the organisation is to improve, through a range of support services, conditions for people living with HIV and Hepatitis, their families and their caregivers while further promoting sexual health in the general population.

Our mission and vision is to contribute towards a significant reduction in the incidence and prevalence of HIV in Ireland and towards the realisation of an AIDS-free generation by advocating for individuals living with HIV, preventing new HIV infections and combating HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

Since 1987 HIV Ireland (formerly Dublin AIDS Alliance) has been pioneering services in sexual health education and promotion, and has consistently engaged in lobbying and campaigning in the promotion of human rights. Our approach broadly reflects a harm minimisation model which emphasises practical rather than idealised goals.  For more information visit


The Union for Improved Services Communication and Education (UISCE), an advocacy and lobby group for drug users is based in the North Inner City. UISCE work to ensure that those in need of services have their voice heard by policy-makers and practitioners. UISCE represent the voice of drug users both locally and nationally. Key activities include highlighting relevant issues affecting drug users and users of drug service gathering and disseminating information to relevant bodies and facilitating the participation of drug users in local structures to improve access to, and quality of, services in the local area.

About AbbVie

AbbVie is a global research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott. It employs more than 400 people at five manufacturing and commercial sites across Ireland. The company’s commercial headquarters is based in Dublin, as is a European manufacturing and engineering services headquarters. AbbVie has two manufacturing plants in Sligo and one in Cork. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. Together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmacyclics, AbbVie employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries.

For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit Follow @abbvie on Twitter or view careers on our Facebook or LinkedIn page.