We Must Eliminate Hepatitis C - A Virus Affecting The Most Marginalised
By David Rowlands, Mar 24 2018 01:17PM
Hepatitis C is not a visible virus. It disproportionately affects disadvantaged and marginalised communities, with almost half of people who attend hospital for hepatitis C coming from the poorest fifth of society. People living with hepatitis C often experience few obvious symptoms, and 40-50% of the estimated 160,000 with hepatitis C in England are unaware they are infected, though the virus can lead to fatal liver cirrhosis and cancer. Those most at risk of transmission from blood-to-blood contact are already from marginalised groups less likely to have a strong voice, including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and migrant communities from endemic countries. When compared to HIV, also a blood-borne virus with similar transmission routes, awareness of hepatitis C is exponentially lower.
Today’s report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health makes bold recommendations designed to press forward towards achieving NHS England’s ambition to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025, five years before the World Health Organization’s global target. However, expert witnesses to the APPG’s inquiry agreed that unless the number of people getting diagnosed and treated is significantly increased, this ambition will not be met.