Launch of National Hepatitis C Awareness Week 27 July 2015


Press release Monday July 27th 2015


Marianne, who has hepatitis C, and Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to kick off the first ever National Hepatitis C Awareness Week at event in Smock Alley Theatre
‘Cure This’ national roadshow to visit Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Athlone this week – organised by Community Response, HIV Ireland and UISCE (Union for Improved Services Communication and Education)
Press release

Monday July 27th 2015

Today marks the first day in a week-long awareness campaign for a much misunderstood disease, hepatitis C. Iconic singer and actress Marianne Faithfull caught a practice session with the High Hopes Choir ahead of a hepatitis C awareness-raising performance tonight at the Smock Alley Theatre.

The performance by the High Hopes choir – Ireland’s only choir made up of people who have been affected directly by homelessness – is just one of several awareness events planned for the first ever National Hepatitis C Awareness Week. Marianne, who has hepatitis C, will be joined by Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin in speaking at the Smock Alley event tonight in an effort to increase awareness of the disease and encourage people to avail of free testing.

The first ever awareness week for hepatitis C is being backed by three community groups – Community Response, HIV Ireland and UISCE (Union for Improved Services Communication and Education). All three groups work with those living in Ireland infected with hepatitis C, primarily in the Dublin City Centre area. However, the groups recognise that there is a pressing need to increase awareness in other urban areas with significant hepatitis C problems. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people across Ireland could have undiagnosed hepatitis C. To reach those people the three community groups have partnered with other regional support groups to organise awareness events across the country this week.

World Hepatitis Day is traditionally celebrated on July 28th and was selected as the perfect time for the awareness week to coincide, with a national roadshow due to visit Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Athlone. A specially created eye-catching ‘Big Green C’ prop will travel to these areas this week and be placed in public spaces to help educate people 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.

Official ambassador for the Awareness Week Marianne Faithfull is well aware of the difficulties facing those living with hepatitis C. Commenting at this morning’s launch, Marianne said;

“It is a pleasure to be in Dublin today to launch this very important awareness week for hepatitis C. Living with any disease is always a challenge, but the stigma associated with hepatitis C makes for an especially difficult journey for those affected. That is why I wanted to get involved and share my story and experience of living with hepatitis C – it is only through talking about hepatitis C and breaking down some of the untruths that exist about the illness will we begin to educate people. I urge anyone concerned about hepatitis C to get involved in this week’s events and get as much information as you can.”

Minister Ó Ríordáin, who is also supporting the work of the three community groups, stressed the importance of raising awareness to at-risk groups;

“I’m delighted to be here today as part of the launch of the National Hepatitis C Awareness Week. I think campaign weeks like this are vital to help challenge the stigma around diseases like hepatitis C and to raise awareness in encouraging people to get tested. I would encourage anyone with concerns to take a test because early intervention is crucial in allowing people with hepatitis to receive the treatment that they need. It is also important that service providers have up to date information on how to treat someone who is at risk, or has, hepatitis C, which is again why testing is so crucial. I hope the upcoming week is a success and I wish all of the organisers well.”

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 planned in each area by local support groups and service providers. The National Hepatitis C Awareness Week roadshow will visit the following locations around Ireland in participation with local support groups this week:

Monday July 27th – North Earl Street, Dublin, with SAOL Project (Stability, Ability, Work and Learning), from 12pm – 2pm
Tuesday July 28th – The Open Door Project, Parnell Square, Athlone, with Merchants Quay Ireland, from 12pm – 2pm
Wednesday July 29th – Bedford Row, Limerick, with GOSHH (Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV), from 12pm – 3pm
Thursday July 30th – Grand Parade (outside the old Capital Cinema), Cork, with Cork Drug and Alcohol Task Force and the Southern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force, from 12pm – 2pm.
As well as marking the start of the National Awareness Week activity, today also sees the launch of The Hepatitis C Partnership. Explaining the launch of the new Partnership, Nicola Perry, Manager of Community Response, said: “The Hepatitis C Partnership (HCP) is a newly formed collaboration of interested stakeholders in the area of hepatitis C – specifically promoting testing, advocating for equitable access to treatment and promoting prevention messages. We especially encourage partnerships of service providers, and it has been fantastic to work with regional service providers on this first ever awareness week to support them with their own awareness activities and events. We hope that people will use our website,, to get support, find services and be part of our work in this area.”

Ms Perry added; “We would like to thank both Marianne Faithfull and Minister Ó Ríordáin for being here today, their support is greatly appreciated. The Irish government has made encouraging strides in the area of hepatitis C this year which is most welcome, and we hope that this positive momentum and resourcing will continue into the future.”

Also commenting at today’s launch was Emily Reaper of UISCE, who reiterated the call on those concerned about hepatitis C to take that first step and get tested: “As a person with hepatitis C, I understand better than most how scary it can be to have confirmation that you are actually sick. But once you have taken that first step and been tested, you can get the support and help that you need. It has been very heartening this year to partner with the various regional service providers who work every day with those living with Hep C – this is not just a Dublin problem, this awareness week and the launch of the Hepatitis C Partnership will hopefully be the first steps towards initiating a national discussion about this burden.”

Niall Mulligan, Director of HIV Ireland, added: “If we can get one message through this week to anyone who may be concerned about hepatitis C, it is to get tested. Hepatitis C is transmitted from person-to-person through blood-to-blood contact and can be transmitted in a number of ways that people are not aware of. It is commonly believed that hepatitis C is exclusively a consequence of sharing needles but this is not the case. Other ways it can be transmitted include acupuncture, body modifications such as tattooing, piercing, steroids, Botox and tanning injections, in cases where the equipment used was not sterilised properly after being used on an infected person.1 If you are concerned, please visit to find out where you can get tested.”

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


For further information please contact:

Lorraine Cronin or Andrew Shaw, First Medical Communications 087 773 0361 (LC) or 087 752 5445 (AS)

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


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 and education, 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


UISCE (Union for Improved Services Communication and Education) are 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.