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Hepatitis C increased 6% last year

14th December 2009

The number of people reported as having hepatitis C in England has increased, according to the Health Protection Agency.

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The HPA's annual report on the disease for 2009 showed that the number of new cases last year increased by 6% from 2007, to 8,196.

The HPA predicted that the health service would face an increasing strain from liver disease caused by hepatitis C.

Estimates have shown that approximately 185,000 people in the UK have the disease. Of this number, 4,000 live in Northern Ireland, 39,000 are in Scotland, and 142,000 live in England and Wales.

People who have chronic cases of hepatitis C have a high risk of liver disease. The HPA has predicated that the NHS will be burdened by the disease if diagnosis and care options are not improved.

The HPA said the rise in cases could partly be due to public awareness campaigns, which has meant more people have put themselves forward to be tested.

However, Dr Helen Harris, a hepatitis C expert from the HPA, said that many people had not yet been diagnosed.

"It is critical that awareness campaigns are sustained and enhanced if more people at risk of this infection are to be tested and treated," she said.

 

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