Hepatitis C is fair easier to pick up than people realise. Over time the effects can be devastating. Lack of early symptoms mean the majority of sufferers don’t even know they have it.
HOW IT’S PASSED ON
The Hepatitis C virus is passed through infected bodily fluids – mainly blood.
Below are some of the ways you can catch it:
– Using a razor or toothbrush belonging to a sufferer.
– From tattoos and piercings or medical or dental treatment abroad if equipment isn’t properly sterilised.
– Using drugs, not just by sharing needles, but also from snorting off surfaces – bank notes even – upon which there may be blood from a fellow user.
– From an open wound, through a contact sport for example.
– From blood transfusions performed before 1991
It’s passed from person to person, could be picked up simply by sharing a toothbrush. It can kill if left untreated.
Hepatitis C – an infectious disease affecting the liver, it is virtually symptomless. Only one in nine sufferers is diagnosed, he says. ‘People are walking around with this disease and they don’t have a clue.’
It can be upto 30 years after transmission before the person feels ill. ‘By then they put the symptoms – tiredness, feeling under the weather and maybe even muddled or confused – down to age.’ By the time symptoms become apparent, the disease may have progressed to cirrhosis or even cancer of the liver, both of which can be fatal.
It’s not all bad news. Around 15-20% of those who pick up the virus will manage to fight off infection and recover naturally. For those who aren’t so fortunate, there is still treatment available, although it works in only about 50% of cases.