In advance of World Hepatitis Day this Saturday 28 July, The Hepatitis C Trust warns that high numbers of people remain unaware of the risks associated with the virus, which if left untreated can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death.
Hepatitis C is a preventable and curable disease and most people are unaware of the risk factors which include sharing toothbrushes and razors. Less than half of the 216,000 people in the UK estimated to have the disease have been diagnosed. In England alone, deaths from hepatitis C have risen by 300% in recent years. There is a huge need to increase testing, diagnosis and treatment of the condition to reduce the lives and money wasted by untreated hepatitis C.
Professor Graham Foster commented: “Since many people with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms or have symptoms that they don’t attribute to the virus, far too many infected people don’t know that they have it. Therefore, they are unable to benefit from the curative treatments that we have at our disposal. The virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Anyone who considers themselves to have ever been at risk should get themselves tested.”
To raise awareness of hepatitis C, The Hepatitis C Trust will be supporting a global effort to attempt a Guinness World Record organised by the World Hepatitis Alliance. The aim of this activity is to highlight the huge under diagnosis of the disease by having the most people performing the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” actions in 24 hours at multiple venues around the world on World Hepatitis Day. In the UK, the public are invited to the following Guinness World Record events on Saturday 28 July:
Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, commented: “Hepatitis is closer than you think. In the UK, a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ attitude prevails and many people are needlessly dying. We simply must increase testing.
“The record attempt aims to mobilise local communities to use their voice to show governments around the world that they can take positive action to fight hepatitis. World Hepatitis Day presents an important opportunity for us to raise the profile of hepatitis C and save lives.”
Hepatitis C is a curable disease, yet most people in the UK remain undiagnosed. This is putting an unnecessary burden on local health services and the NHS budget as a whole because people don’t arrive in services until they already have advanced liver disease. The latest statistics show that in 2010, 107 liver transplants were undertaken for people with hepatitis C, but the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) estimate that this will rise to 466 per year, which means the number of transplants needed by 2020 could be as many as 4,200.1
Although hepatitis C is a disease often associated with intravenous drug use, there are lesser known risk factors that can affect anybody. A recent survey of the British public found:
Better2Know can test for Hepatitis C at any of its nationwide STD clinics . The test is also part of our Platinum and Early Detection Screens.