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Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?

The hepatitis C virus (hep C) is carried in the blood. It affects the liver by preventing it from working properly by infecting the liver cells and causing inflammation.

Over time, the inflammation can cause scarring (fibrosis) which could eventually cause significant damage to the liver (cirrhosis).

If left untreated, 20–25 percent of infected individuals will develop cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis increases the risk of developing liver cancer, which can be fatal.

Untreated hepatitis C can also cause a range of other symptoms, such as: muscular pain and achy joints, pain in the abdominal and liver area, fatigue, depression, headaches, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss.

Hep C can be treated and, in most cases, it can be cured.

Ways you could have been exposed

The highest risk group are injecting drug users, who may be sharing needles, syringes and other drug-using equipment.

The following also pose some risk of exposure to the hepatitis C virus:

  • Sharing crack pipes or straws & other equipment to use drugs
  • Receiving blood products in a hospital in the UK before September 1991
  • Receiving medical treatment or blood products in a country where hepatitis C is common (parts of the Middle East, North Africa, notably Egypt and Pakistan)
  • Anyone who was born in a country where hepatitis C is common
  • Anyone who has had acupuncture, tattoos or body piercings in unsterile conditions Sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes
  • Transmission from mother to baby during childbirth – although the risk is very low

Getting tested is quick, straightforward & simple…

If you believe you might have been exposed to hepatitis C, then speak to a medical professional such as your GP about getting tested.

You cannot rely on symptoms or how you are feeling as you may have no noticeable symptoms.

Today across the Bradford District many places offer a simple finger prick test.

You can get tested at most GPs practices or health centres or at New Vision Bradford sites, if you are registered there.

What if my test is positive?

If your test is positive, don’t worry. Across the Bradford District new hepatitis C medications are available.

Today we can cure over 95% of those with hepatitis C, with simple, effective tablets.

These tablets have far fewer side effects than previous treatments.

On average a course of treatment lasts up to 12 weeks.

Upwards of 95% of patients are now cured with tablets alone

If you think you may have been at risk of exposure to hepatitis C speak to your doctor about getting tested.

For further information contact the Hepatitis C Trust 0207 089 6221