This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.





The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

World Hepatitis Day, 28 July 2023: Positive Help isn’t Waiting 

This opinion piece is 11 months old
 

Longstanding Edinburgh HIV/Hepatitis C charity celebrates how they are Acting Now to change the lives of those living with Hepatitis C in their community.  

For over 34 years Positive Help has supported people living with HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) in Edinburgh and the Lothians. This World Hepatitis Day, we want to celebrate everyone who has cleared Hepatitis C, and how Positive Help volunteers have supported them on their journey. Positive Help’s mission is to provide free, easy-to-access, practical support to people living with or affected by HIV or HCV, in order to help them live well.  

World Hepatitis Day, 28th of July, is one of the World Health Organisation’s official global public health days. It’s a day for the world to unite in raising awareness of viral hepatitis, celebrate the progress made in diagnosis and treatment of the virus, and an opportunity to influence change in our local and global communities. This year’s theme: “We’re not waiting”. It’s a call to act now - people at risk of HCV can’t wait for testing, those living with the virus can’t wait for treatment that can cure them, decision makers can’t wait to introduce changes that will lead us to the elimination of hepatitis, and organisations like Positive Help can’t wait for greater community investment to provide our life-changing support. We’re acting now. 

Positive Help provides a range of adult and children’s support and we take organisational and self-referrals from anyone in the Lothians living with or affected by HIV/HCV, such as children of guardians with a diagnosis. Our services are volunteer-led, and in this way we bring our community together to not only support those in need, but reduce our society’s stigma against HIV and HCV. Our Supportive Transport service is our longest standing and most utilised service, and is one of the primary ways we “act now” every day. With this service, our trained volunteers provide lifts and supportive chats/debriefs of healthcare and other appointments. By providing transport, we enable those facing the inequalities of poverty, trauma and addiction to access the support they need. 

We recently surveyed the users of our transport service, and the results were incredible. 100% of respondents said that our Supportive Transport service significantly improved their attendance at appointments, with a number of service users sharing that they wouldn’t be able to access their appointments without Positive Help’s intervention. Better attendance of medical appointments leads to better outcomes for our service users, including the effective management of their treatment with the ultimate goal of clearing HCV. In addition to this, 100% of respondents also reported feeling less isolated and more connected. One of our service users gave this feedback: “They [sic] drivers are like family. I feel connected to them and that they are there to support me. I know I can rely on you for support and that I can call and ask for help and you will be there. I would miss a lot of appointments without your help because it would be too much for me, I wouldn't be able to get the bus or afford to pay for a taxi.”  

Community is imperative - it’s how we do what we do at Positive Help, and it’s one of the reasons why World Hepatitis Day is so vital. Our CEO, Gillian Frayling-Kelly shares: “The results of the Supportive Transport evaluation demonstrates the success of Positive Help and how we work. No matter what medical treatment is available if someone physically or mentally cannot get to their appointment they are not going to get better. By building positive relationships and accepting people where they are, our staff and volunteers help them conquer their health goals.” 

There is so much to celebrate this year, in terms of global advancements in treatment of the virus, as well as on a local level, but this day is also about bringing light to the challenges still faced daily by those impacted by hepatitis. There’s still work to be done, and we don’t want our community to have to wait. Learn more about Positive Help, and how you can get involved and Act Now, on our website: https://www.positivehelpedinburgh.co.uk/.   

Further Links: 

Positive Help Services: https://www.positivehelpedinburgh.co.uk/what-we-do/  

Support Positive Help: https://www.positivehelpedinburgh.co.uk/support-our-work/ 

Get involved with us: https://www.positivehelpedinburgh.co.uk/volunteering-with-positive-help/ 

Julia Law is Administrative Officer for Positive Help