How many people have Hep C?
It’s not clear how many people have hepatitis C in the UK. The Health Protection Agency is currently revising its estimates upwards. The usually quoted figure of around 200,000 (or 0.5% of the population), is based on studies from the mid-1990s. The Hepatitis C Trust put the figure at closer to 500,000. They also warn that as many as 200,000 people could die of hepatitis C in the next 20 to 30 years unless diagnosis and treatment in the UK, which it described in September 2005 as the worst in Europe, improves. So how can you get hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is carried in the blood. The virus is spread through contact with the blood of a person who has hepatitis C. Common ways include: • injecting drugs using shared equipment – you only need to have done this once • receiving a blood transfusion before 1991, or blood products like clotting factors before 1986. (All blood in the UK is now screened for hepatitis C.) • having sex without a condom with someone who has the virus • having a tatto