A UNIQUE new service was launched on July 1, 2003 which aims to provide support and information for people living with Hepatitis C.
C-Level is a charity which provides a one-stop service for the 5,000 plus people in Glasgow who have been diagnosed with the virus.
There they can receive help, support and advice on coping with their illness.
Funded by NHS Greater Glasgow and based at 268 Bath Street, Glasgow, the centre also provides accommodation for support groups and offer complementary therapies to centre users.
To celebrate the launch, the service is held a special open day giving people living with Hepatitis C the opportunity to meet staff and volunteers involved in the centre.
Claire Morris, Peer Education Coordinator with C-Level, said: "Glasgow has the highest number of known Hepatitis C infected people in Scotland and this new service will play a vital part of their care.
"We have a team of C-Level volunteers who will not only be trained to counsel people infected with Hepatitis C, but will be on hand to give accurate preventative information to those at risk of contracting the virus. Anyone concerned that they may have HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) can also access a full pre and post-testing counselling service at C-Level.
"In addition, we'll be opening the doors to Hepatitis C support groups who will be able to meet at C-Level and give people affected by the virus the opportunity to share their experiences."
Claire revealed that advice and information won't be the only assistance offered at the centre. She's secured the skills of a volunteer reflexologist and is appealing to other complementary therapy practitioners who may want offer their services on a voluntary basis.
She said: "Complementary therapies are known to help alleviate some of the symptoms of Hepatitis C and help people better cope with their illness. We're hoping to be able to offer other alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy and massage, in the future."
In addition to complementary therapists, Claire is also appealing for more volunteers. She's already got a good team of people working at the centre, but could always do with more pairs of hands.
She said: "Anyone can be a volunteer. There are a range of jobs volunteers can perform including counselling, administration, delivering leaflets and offering therapies. All we require is that you provide a minimum of three hours a week volunteering at the centre."
C-Level is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Anyone wishing to find out more information, should contact Claire on 0141 332 2520.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
There are around 14,390 reported cases of Hepatitis C in Scotland (that's 1 in every 390 people) – around 5370 of which (or 37%) are people who live within the Greater Glasgow area.
It is believed that there are many more people living with the virus who are unaware of the fact. We can't be exact about how many, but it is likely the number of unknown cases exceeds the number of known cases several fold.
Of those people infected within Greater Glasgow, around 3420 were infected through injecting drug use. Other sources of infection include: through infected blood, from mother to baby at birth, accidental stabbing with infected needles, tattooing/piercing/acupuncture (via dirty equipment), sharing personal items with an infected person (eg razors, toothbrushes), having penetrative vaginal or anal sex without using a condom (although this is quite rare).
Of those people who were infected with Hepatitis C in Scotland through blood factor (ie through blood transfusion), they became infected prior to the time in the mid 1980s when heat treatment was introduced to eradicate bloodborne infection.
Claire Morris, C-Level on 0141 332 2520
Louise Carroll, NHS Greater Glasgow on 0141 201 4640
Press: Dawn Nelson on 0141 201 4912 or [email protected]