Chronic hepatitis C infection is resulting in 4,500 people across the UK suffering from liver disease. By the year 2010, this is expected to rise to 7,000, according to a report by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The UK has about 200,000 people who suffer from the chronic hepatitis C infection, but most of them are not aware of their condition. Injected drugs are believed to be responsible for 80% of the cases. Those who have taken to drugs recently also appear to be infected. Blood transfusions involving infected blood are also responsible for this.
If it is left untreated, the Hepatitis C virus can result in liver failure or cancer, or cirrhosis. As no symptoms are produced by the virus, it can remain undetected in a person for several years. The virus can also be passed on to the unborn child by pregnant women.
Data linked to diagnoses, hospital admissions, and liver transplant were used by the HPA to make the estimates. The health care costs in the country are expected to rise as a result of this. In 2006 alone the NHS is expected spend £156 million on untreated hepatitis C.
An action plan has been launched by Sir Liam Donaldson in 2004 for dealing with this problem, which calls for an annual report to be compiled by the HPA.
Excessive consumption of alcohol has to be stopped by those who have been diagnosed to have the disease to avoid serious liver problems.