Recent figures released by the Department of Health have reported a rise in the number of sufferers of Hepatitis C. The report shows that there are more than 7,500 cases of Hepatitis C nationwide, but the Department of Health warns that there is an estimated 200,000 people that have it in the UK without realising it.

The figures also show that the North West had the most cases, with over 1,600 sufferers in 2007. A national Hepatitis C campaign has been launched this week in a bid to teach people about the disease, its symptoms and to get people to be tested for the infection.

Hepatitis C is a virus that can lead to lasting liver damage if it is not treated. It is usually transmitted through blood to blood contact such as sharing needles, getting tattoos or piercings from unsterile needles and unprotected sex with an infected person.

Speaking about Hepatitis C, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said, “It can take years or even decades for symptoms to appear, if at all. If left untreated, it can lead to liver damage and premature death.”

He also added that: “Fortunately, effective treatment is available, so it is vital that people who may have been at risk of infection seek medical advice and get tested.”

People who are worried about the risk of Hepatitis C, or think that they might of been exposed to the virus, should contact their GP or nearest STD testing clinic. Better2Know has clinics across the UK which provide confidential STD testing services with fast results.

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