NHS urges public to get tested for Hepatitis C as thousands could already be infected

The NHS is urging people to get tested for Hepatitis C as many may have unknowingly caught it while travelling.

Hepatitis C symptoms to look out for as thousands could already be infected
Hepatitis C symptoms to look out for as thousands could already be infected

It has been reported on 31 August 2023 that the NHS is advising people to urgently get a Hepatitis C test. Indeed, the UK hopes to eradicate the disease by 2025 but that plan could be unachievable without massive testing.

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Hepatitis C is described by the NHS as ‘a virus that can infect the liver.’ Moreover, they write that if the virus is left untreated it has the potential to ‘cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver over many years.’

While Hepatitis C is usually curable it is crucial that people get tested as quickly as possible as, in 2023, it is estimated that 70,000 people may unknowingly be infected.

How to contract Hepatitis C?

According to a study provided by the healthcare company Preventx, the virus can be ‘picked up’ through ‘dental, cosmetic or health procedures’ when equipment is not sterilised properly. Moreover, the virus can enter the system when getting tattoos or piercings. Finally, people should be cautious not to share household items such as razors and toothbrushes as they can also carry the virus.

It is also important to understand that Hepatitis C is a ‘blood-to-blood’ virus meaning that it can only be transmitted through blood contact.

Read more: Covid-19: This little-known variant is currently on the rise, here's what we know about 'Fornax'

Why the urge for increased testing?

The study made by Preventx concludes with a worrying fact:

some 70,000 adults may still have the disease without realising.

Reporting on the study’s findings, Sky News spoke to a 55 year old patient who was diagnosed with the virus in January 2023. According to what the patient reported, he undergone an ‘emergency medical treatment in Sri Lanka’ after a motorbike accident 25 years ago.

The January diagnosis came as a shock to him. He says:

I wish I'd known back then about the risk of hepatitis C from medical treatment overseas
We need to make more people aware of the virus and get more people to test.

This man’s story as well as the study by Preventx reveal that as people travel more and sometimes get tattoos, piercings or are involved in accidents abroad, the chances of contracting Hepatitis C are higher.

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Symptoms of Hepatitis C and how to get tested

The NHS lists 5 main symptoms of Hepatitis C:

  • flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature (fever)
  • feeling tired all the time
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach ache
  • feeling and being sick

They also specify that the virus ‘does not have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged’ explaining why many people have the virus without knowing it.

The NHS advises anyone who believed they could have been infected to seek medical advice. In any case your GP can prescribe you with a blood test that will determine whether or not you have the virus.

The NHS also has a ‘finger-prick test at home’ available. Get it HERE



Sky News: Thousands of people may have unknowingly contracted hepatitis C abroad, health experts warn

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