Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection, which is transmitted via blood and body fluids.

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Hepatitis Testing

(From £284 as part of a full sexual health screen)

Worldwide over 180 million people are infected. However, there is a very large number of undiagnosed cases and estimates of true prevalence are much higher.

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The incubation period of acute Hepatitis C is usually between 6 and 9 weeks. Most people with the acute infection do not have symptoms. Around 60-85% of those who acquire infection with hepatitis C go on to develop chronic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).

Many people who are chronically infected will experience nonspecific symptoms, including malaise, weakness and loss of appetite. Symptoms are worsened by high alcohol intake. Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) develops in 20-30% of people after 20 years. Around 1-4% of patients with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and 2-5% per year develop liver failure.

The best test for Hepatitis C is the Hepatitis C antigen, the part of the virus that stimulates the immune system. This can be detected from accurately from 10 days after exposure. The Hepatitis C PCR test (part of the early STD screen) also detects infection from 10 days after exposure. Antibody testing can be used from 28 days. It is advisable to have a repeat test at 3 months for definite results.

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