Hepatitis C rises amongst intravenous drug users in Wales

Hepatitis C The Hepatitis C Trust says an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 people in Wales have the virus but do not realise

Related Stories

The number of intravenous drug users with hepatitis C in Wales is increasing, figures show.

The Hepatitis C Trust says a survey of people in Wales who inject drugs revealed 39% had the disease, which is transmitted by infected blood.

But the figures were higher in England at 45% and Scotland at 55%.

In 2011, 384 people in Wales had hepatitis C, chronic liver disease or liver cancer compared with 78 in 1997. Hepatitis C can be asymptomatic.

The trust says an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 people in Wales are thought to have the disease but do not realise it.

Hospital admissions in Wales for conditions caused by hepatitis C have risen from seven in 1997 to 60 in 2011.

Hepatitis C Facts

  • People with hepatitis C, serious liver disease or liver cancer increased from 178 to 384 in 14 years
  • 12,000-14,000 people infected and unaware
  • Intravenous drug use the single largest cause of transmission of the virus
  • No vaccine but there is effective treatment available

Source: Hepatitis C Trust

Intravenous drug use is the single largest cause of transmission of the virus.

Although there is no vaccine to protect against infection, there is effective treatment available.

More than 250,000 people in the UK are infected with hepatitis C, but eight out of 10 do not know they have it, the trust says.

'Huge strides'

About 75% of these people in the UK go on to develop chronic hepatitis because they have not been tested for it.

The Welsh government launched the Blood Borne Viral Hepatitis Action Plan in April 2010, which aimed to increase diagnosis, improve treatment and raise awareness of the disease.

Dr Marion Lyons, director of Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said there had been "huge strides" in progressing the action plan.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, headaches, sweats)
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Alcohol intolerance and pain in the liver area

Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: "Wales is leading the way by enacting the World Health Organisation's recommendation for all countries to produce a national strategy for the prevention of viral hepatitis.

"The majority of those with the disease don't realise they have it, so it is very positive that the government is now focussing on raising awareness to prevent needless deaths.

"People need to understand how to protect themselves and go to their GP if they have ever been at risk."

A liver health programme was launched earlier this year in Welsh prisons and further research is being carried out.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Wales stories



  • Nigel Farage (left) and Douglas CarswellWho's next?

    The Tory MPs being tipped to follow Carswell to UKIP

  • A painting of the White House on fire by Tom FreemanFinders keepers

    The odd objects looted by the British from Washington in 1814

  • President Barack Obama pauses during a press conference on 28 August.'No strategy'

    Obama's gaffe on Islamic State reveals political truth

  • Chris and Regina Catrambone with their daughter Maria LuisaSOS

    The millionaires who rescue people at sea

  • Plane7 days quiz

    What unusual offence got a Frenchman thrown off a plane?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.