Hep C the silent killer
It is estimated that 250,000 people in the UK have been infected with Hepititis C, but 8/10 are unaware that they have been infected.
Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect and damage the liver. Left untreated it can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.
In most cases, hepatitis C causes no noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged.
When symptoms do occur, they are often vague and can be easily mistaken for another condition. Symptoms include:
• flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and loss of appetite
• feeling tired all the time
• depression weight loss
Because of this, many people remain unaware that they are infected by hepatitis C.
How do you get hepatitis C?
You can become infected with hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood or, less commonly, body fluids of an infected person.
The hepatitis C virus is present in the blood and, to a much lesser extent, the saliva and semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person.
It is particularly concentrated in the blood, so it is usually transmitted through blood-to-blood contact.
You may also at risk of Hepatitis if you have ever:
· Received a blood transfusion or blood products in the UK before 1992
· injected drugs including steriods and shared injecting equipment, needles, spoons or drugs –even once.
· sniffed or snorted drugs with shared bank notes, straws etc – even once.
· had a tattoo or piercing in an unlicensed premise
· had dental work or a medical procedure abroad
Less commonly, people can get hepatitis C through sex or being exposed to infected body fluids at work.
The chances of developing Hep C are increased if you have had unprotected sex with a professional sex worker in the UK or abroad, or had unprotected sex with a partner abroad.
The good news is that if the condition is detected early can be cured. Testing for the condition could not be easier, a simple blood test.
The result is usually available within 24 hours. You may want to postpone your test until after organising any insurance or mortgage as you may be asked about your Hep C status when applying for one of these financial products.
If you are concerned that you may be at risk contact Southdowns Sexual Healthcare on 01243 388712 to book your test.