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Published On: Thu, Jul 25th, 2013

England reports increases in hepatitis C diagnoses

With World Hepatitis Day just around the corner (July 28), Public Health England (PHE) released it’s annual hepatitis C report that reveals  cases of Hepatitis C (HCV) have risen by one third.

Image/Video Screen Shot

Image/Video Screen Shot

In 2012, according to the report, the number of  laboratory confirmed new diagnoses of  HCV rose to 10,873, up from 7,882 cases in 2010 – when statutory notification by diagnostic laboratories was first introduced.

London, which accounts for one quarter of all cases, went from 954 in 2010 to 2,844 cases in 2012.

Other data released by PHE include:

The report confirms that around 160,000 people are living with chronic hepatitis C virus infection in England – many of whom are unaware of their infection. Across the UK more than 215,000 individuals are thought to be chronically infected.

Over the past 15 years, hospital admissions for hepatitis C-related end stage liver disease and liver cancer in England have increased from 574 in 1998 to 2,266 in 2012, while deaths have risen from 115 in 1998 to 326 in 2012. An increase in registrations for liver transplants has also been observed, with 52 in 1998 to 114 in 2012 – although figures have been relatively stable over the past 5 years.

Dr Helen Harris, a hepatitis expert at PHE, who led the publication of the report, said:

While there has been an increase in confirmed cases of hepatitis C infection, partly as a result of increased testing and partly because of improved laboratory reporting, sadly, many people chronically infected with hepatitis C remain unaware of their infection. For many, it can be several years or even decades before they develop symptoms. It is therefore vital to raise awareness about this condition so that more individuals are diagnosed and treated. Antiviral therapies exist that will clear the virus in most cases, yet only around three per cent of the chronically infected population in England access them each year.

On World Hepatitis Day (28 July), WHO is urging governments to act against the five hepatitis viruses that can cause severe liver infections and lead to 1.4 million deaths every year.

The complexity of hepatitis disease lies in the existence of different types of viruses. Hepatitis A and E are foodborne and waterborne infections which cause millions of cases of acute illness every year, sometimes with several months needed for a person to fully recover.

Hepatitis B, C, and D are spread by infected body fluids including blood, by sexual contact, mother-to-child transmission during birth, or by contaminated medical equipment. Hepatitis B and C have a greater health burden in terms of death because they can cause life-long infection (called chronic infection), which can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer. In fact, chronic hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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