Health Screening for Hepatitis C
- in terms of media coverage, this illness is the little brother of Hepatitis B. But its impact is significant and growing. A recent Department of Health report has estimated that 215,000 people in the UK are affected by this virus, with half of those infected not knowing they have the illness. Deaths attributable to Hepatitis C have increased four times since 1996. So Hepatitis C is a real problem - both for the individual with it of course - and for the public too as the illness is highly contagious (and is usually spread by sharing of needles used for iv drug use, less commonly through sexual activity).
Hepatitis C can be a brief and mild illness, and it may leave no consequences. More often, after a mild illness, the individual becomes a 'carrier' of the virus and is prone to chronic liver disease later in life.
What is probably less known however is that there is an effective treatment for Hepatitis C now freely available. Only 3% of those who know they have the virus are treated each year. But outcomes are improving all the time - cure is achievable in up to 80% of all cases.
For the best chance of complete clearance of the virus (cure), it is essential that those that have the virus are first identified of course through a routine health check...and the sooner it is known about, the better as early intervention is associated with better cure rates.
So if you feel you may be at risk of Hepatitis C don't remain silent - doing nothing is not really an option anymore. Speak to your own doctor if you have any concerns by all means, or consider ordering the hepatitis C antibody test as part of your health assessment today.