Laboratory confirmed new diagnoses of hepatitis C infection (HCV) reported in England have risen by more than one-third to 10,873 cases in 2012.
This is up from 7,882 cases in 2010 – when statutory notification by diagnostic laboratories was first introduced.
In London, which accounts for 26% of all hepatitis C cases reported in England in 2012, cases have almost trebled to 2,844 cases in 2012, up from 954 in 2010.
These figures are released today (25 July 2013) in the annual hepatitis C report published by Public Health England (PHE) ahead of World Hepatitis Day on Sunday 28 July.
The report confirms that around 160,000 people are living with chronic hepatitis C virus infection in England – many of whom are unaware of their infection. Across the UK more than 215,000 individuals are thought to be chronically infected.
Over the past 15 years, hospital admissions for hepatitis C-related end stage liver disease and liver cancer in England have increased from 574 in 1998 to 2,266 in 2012, while deaths have risen from 115 in 1998 to 326 in 2012. An increase in registrations for liver transplants has also been observed, with 52 in 1998 to 114 in 2012 – although figures have been relatively stable over the past 5 years.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus causes inflammation of the liver, and if left untreated, can result in chronic liver disease, liver failure, or even death. As the liver can still operate even when damaged, many people are unaware they have the disease at first because they have no symptoms. It is often only when the liver becomes seriously damaged that symptoms occur and people report to their doctor.