Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can cause inflammation and significant liver damage.
Approximately 216,000 people in England have chronic hepatitis C infection. Over time this can lead to cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. The majority of those infected are probably unaware - for every known case there may be four undiagnosed cases.
Avoiding hepatitis C
There's no vaccine to protect against hepatitis C, but the risk of transmitting infection or becoming infected can be minimised by avoiding contact with the blood or blood products:
- Never share injecting or other drug equipment that might have been in contact with blood;
- Use a condom if unsure of a partner's sexual history - condoms provide all-in-one protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection;
- Ensure the equipment used is sterile if considering ear or body piercing, tattoo or semi-permanent makeup, or acupuncture, in this country or abroad;
- Don't share razors, toothbrushes or tweezers - these may have been in contact with blood; and
- Cover all cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters, especially on your hands.
Local support and services
York and North Yorkshire do not have any specialist hepatitis C services; however there are a range of services available to suit different needs.
For patients who would like to consider being tested, they can do so in confidence via the local GU clinic. GPs can also provide testing but this will be kept on a patient's record and can sometimes affect insurance deals. Additional information can be obtained through YorSexualHealth, North Yorkshire and York's sexual health hub:
- Central booking number for GUM services within North Yorkshire, apart from Craven: 01904 721111
Craven area only (when calling ask for a "Sexual Health" appointment):
- Cross Hills Health Centre: 0844 477 3030
- Dyneley Surgery - Skipton: 01756 799811
- Townhead Surgery - Settle: 01729 822611
Adult drug and alcohol services in North Yorkshire
Specialist drug and alcohol services in North Yorkshire are now delivered through a new service, North Yorkshire Horizons.
These services are delivered via a range of local service hubs, coordinated through a single point of contact telephone number - 01723 330730. The services can provide confidential advice and information regarding hepatitis C and other blood-borne viruses to those accessing them. See the 'Contact us' section for more details of the local service hubs and other services in North Yorkshire and York.
Help and advice on hepatitis C related issues
The Hepatitis C Trust provides support, information and representation for people with hepatitis C.
Additional information from NHS Choices
See the NHS Choices page below for more information on hepatitis C: