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article imageTroubling state of hepatitis C revealed

By Tim Sandle     Aug 3, 2015 in Health
London - Newly released figures show that some 214,000 people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the U.K. In most cases infection is caused by the same types of the virus.
The figure of 214,00 is up on previous estimates. However, this is coincidental with a rise in testing and more accurate diagnosis, so the figure alone does not necessarily mean an overall rise in the rate of infections.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease of the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). There are seven different types (genotypes) of the virus. In the U.K., most infections are either types I or III.
The disease can be spread by needles (especially where drug addicts share needles), poorly sterilized medical equipment, and via blood transfusion. Symptoms include flu-like feelings, such as muscle aches and loss of appetite; feeling lethargic; and depression.
In terms of cause, the most common reason for hepatitis C infection remains intravenous drug use, as shown in a recent anonymous monitoring survey. The risk of contracting hepatitis from regular drug users remains high, with an estimate of 60 percent in Scotland; 50 percent in England; 47 percent in Wales; and 32 percent in Northern Ireland.
To help tackle infection, a report from Public Health England recommends that public health programs need to focus on:
Prevention of new infections,
Increasing awareness of infection,
Increasing testing and diagnosis,
Getting diagnosed individuals into treatment and care.
As with many diseases tied to certain lifestyles, health promotion is the optimal strategy in order to bring infection rates down. There is also a need for more funding. A spokesperson for one drug use charity, called “Addaction North Somerset”, spike recently to the Mercury newspaper.
Here Sue Petters noted that hepatitis C “is a major barrier to the full recovery of people with a history of drug use. We’ve seen people who’ve beaten heroin addiction only to go on and develop severe problems with their liver later in life. That needs to change. If the funding is provided to improve on the diagnosis and treatment currently being provided, we could effectively eradicate hepatitis C in our lifetimes.”
More about Hepatitis, Hepatitis C, Drug use, Needles, Infection
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