Department of Health and Social Care
Around 80% of people don’t realise hepatitis C can lead to cancer
PHE is working with the Hepatitis C Trust to raise awareness of the infection this World Hepatitis Day.
Public Health England (PHE) is urging people to get free testing for hepatitis C virus (HCV) after new data shows a lack of awareness of the disease and the factors that can put people at risk of infection.
A study commissioned by The Hepatitis C Trust showed 80% of people were aware of HCV, however, less than 40% knew it infects the liver, and less than 30% knew the virus is curable.
Revolutionary treatments can now cure HCV in the vast majority of cases.
Around 200,000 people in the UK are thought to be living with chronic HCV, yet challenges in awareness remain a barrier to timely diagnosis and treatment.
HCV can cause severe liver damage and can lead to death if left untreated. It is spread through blood-to-blood contact.
It often doesn’t have any specific symptoms until significant liver damage is caused. Some people with HCV may experience flu-like symptoms, tiredness and abdominal pain, which can easily be ignored or mistaken for other conditions.
In England, around one-third of those with a long-term infection with HCV are believed to be over the age of 50 and many will have acquired the infection years, or even decades, earlier.
As World Hepatitis Day approaches, PHE is partnering with The Hepatitis C Trust to increase efforts to ensure people living with HCV unknowingly are diagnosed and treated. This will contribute to achieving the World Health Organization’s ambition of eliminating hepatitis C as a major public health threat by 2030 at the latest.
Dr Helen Harris, Clinical Scientist, Public Health England, said:
The results of this survey highlight the very low levels of awareness of hepatitis C and the factors that can put people at risk of infection. We strongly encourage anyone who may have been at risk of hepatitis C infection to get tested, whether or not they have any symptoms.
It is crucial that people are tested and diagnosed in order that they can access treatment early to clear the virus. Increased levels of testing and diagnosis are essential if we are to reach our goal of eliminating hepatitis C as a major public health threat in the UK by 2030, at the latest.
You should get tested if you:
- received a blood transfusion before September 1991, or a blood product before 1986 in the UK
- shared needles or other equipment to inject drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- had medical or dental treatment abroad in unsterile conditions
- had a tattoo, piercing, acupuncture, electrolysis, or semi-permanent make up using equipment that may have been unsterilised
- had unprotected sex with someone who has or might have hepatitis C
- shared a razor or toothbrush with someone who has, or might have hepatitis C
PHE strongly encourages anyone who may have been at risk of HCV to get tested, whether or not they have any symptoms. Free and simple testing is available from local GPs, sexual health clinics, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics or drug treatment services.
Latest News from
Department of Health and Social Care
New blueprint for better hospital food27/10/2020 10:10:10
Millions of NHS patients and staff will benefit from tastier, healthier and better-quality meals following an independent review of hospital food.
Sewage signals early warning of coronavirus outbreaks23/10/2020 13:27:00
Government-led programme is providing an early warning of coronavirus outbreaks by monitoring sewage and sharing data with NHS Test & Trace
Millions of extra flu jabs available to support largest UK vaccination programme23/10/2020 12:20:00
Over 30 million people to be vaccinated this year to protect them from flu and support the NHS.
NHS Test and Trace statistics for 8 October to 14 October23/10/2020 10:10:10
NHS Test and Trace successfully reached 80.7% of people who tested positive and 75.1% of contacts where communication details were provided, latest figures show.
Over 13,700 more nurses working in the NHS22/10/2020 15:52:00
The number of nurses in the NHS in England increased by 13,718 compared with last year, and the number of doctors has risen by 7,810, figures to the end of July show.
New partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and Royal Statistical Society to support Joint Biosecurity Centre COVID-19 response22/10/2020 10:10:10
This new partnership will provide further statistical modelling and machine learning expertise to support the government’s response to COVID-19.
Health Secretary warns of long-term effects of COVID-19 as new film released21/10/2020 16:10:00
New data suggests long COVID affects around 10% of 18 to 49 year olds who become unwell with COVID-19.
Local COVID alert level update for South Yorkshire21/10/2020 13:10:00
South Yorkshire will move from local COVID alert level high to very high from 00.01 on Saturday 24 October.
Local COVID alert level update for Greater Manchester21/10/2020 12:48:00
Greater Manchester will move from local COVID alert level high to very high from 00.01 on Friday 23 October.