This month, Haemochromatosis UK launches a £300,000 multi-channel TV, press, billboard, radio and digital campaign to raise awareness of genetic haemochromatosis (iron overload), a treatable condition thought to affect tens of thousands of people in Northern Ireland.
Genesis Advertising created and funded the campaign with the support of a range of media and production partners. Ballyclare homebuilder Hagan Homes provided additional support to fund subsidised genetic testing kits.
Recent research by the charity has revealed that 1 in 10 people are at risk locally of genetic haemochromatosis.
Untreated, the condition can lead to toxic iron overload, where the body is unable to process excess iron. The condition can cause liver disease, cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, severe joint pain, sexual health issues, dementia and mental health issues. It can affect men and women at any age, but is typically diagnosed when people reach middle-age.
People with genetic haemochromatosis have four-times the risk of liver disease and twice the risk of arthritis. Men are especially at risk, with ten-times the risk of liver cancer and twice the risk of developing dementia, if untreated.
The condition is common locally, but significantly under-diagnosed.
James Hagan, Founder and Chair of Hagan Homes, expressed a deeply personal connection to the decision to contribute to the awareness campaign. He said : “Someone near and dear to me has been diagnosed with genetic haemochromatosis, even in the absence of symptoms. Their experience vividly illustrates why this campaign is crucial – most diagnoses reveal no symptoms, and the potential consequences are extremely serious. We are dedicated to supporting our community, and upon learning about the campaign’s significance, especially its connection to someone dear, it resonated as the right thing to do.”
As part of the partnership and Hagan Homes’ commitment to having a healthy workforce each member of staff will be offered free testing for genetic haemochromatosis.
Chief Executive of Haemochromatosis UK, Neil McClements said: “We’re delighted to collaborate with Hagan Homes in improving public awareness and diagnosis rates of this common, but under-diagnosed genetic condition. Treatment is simple and effective, so we encourage local families to come forward to claim a postal test kit, which thanks to Hagan Homes is being heavily subsidised until the end of November.”
NI residents can order a subsidised health check kit online by visiting https://www.haemochromatosis.org.uk/get-tested-for-genetic-haemochromatosis
A home testing kit is then delivered and returned by post. Once the kit is returned, within 2 weeks, the charity will write with results to everyone tested and their NHS GP, with information about their personalised test results and what to do next.