IN 35 degree heat, riding a bike nearly 400 kilometres would be anyone’s nightmare but Wellington man Darren Ellwood is on a mission.
His mission is to raise awareness of hepatitis C and how easy it is to catch the blood-to-blood contact disease.
He is riding from Wellington to Sydney to convince young people of the dangers of backyard piercings, tattoos and sharing drug-use equipment.
“If you knew as much as I know about hepatitis C and how bad it is you’d want your children to be educated,” he said.
Mr Ellwood was diagnosed with hepatitis C when he was 19 and without treatment he would die.
“I’m targeting young 16-year-olds who think it’s a good idea to get illegal tattoos in backyards,” he said.
“They don’t realise how easy it is to get the disease.”
Mr Ellwood said it was important for people to check with beauticians if they change and sterilise their equipment for individual clients.
“Particularly nail technicians, they might not change the nail file for each individual person and all you need is one molecule of blood and you’ve got hepatitis C,” he said.
Just because people didn’t share needles when using drugs didn’t mean they were safe from the disease, Mr Ellwood said.
Hepatitis C can be caught from sharing straws and pipes.
Mr Ellwood is urging people who have the disease to join a closed Facebook group called The world of hepatitis C he set up to give support and advice.