Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver.  It is passed on when infected blood from one person comes into contact with blood from another person.  It can take a long time to cause a significant amount of damage to the liver, but once that damage is done the consequences can be very serious.  Untreated hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately death.  Unfortunately, hepatitis C does not generally have any symptoms, therefore you may not be aware that you have picked up the infection.

Some things put you at greater risk of contracting hepatitis C.

They include:

  • If you have had a blood transfusion before 1991
  • If you have ever injected drugs or steroids, even if this was only once in your life.  Sharing any injecting equipment – needles, filters, syringes, spoons, cups or water – is very high risk.
  • Sharing rolled banknotes or straws for snorting cocaine.
  • If you have had unprotected sex with someone you know is hepatitis C positive.  Particularly risky if you have rough or anal sex, or if a woman with hepatitis C is menstruating.  You may be more at risk if you have ever worked in the sex industry.
  • Sharing razor blades, hair-clippers and toothbrushes.  This is particularly risky if you have shared any of these whilst in prison.
  • If you have received a tattoo or piercing outside of a licensed parlour.  Infection is rare in professional establishments.
  • If you have been involved in a fight where blood was present.  The prevalence of hepatitis C is higher in prison, so this may be particularly relevant if you have ever served a sentence.
  • If you have received medical treatment overseas (some countries are higher risk than others).
  • If you are of south Asian origin.  The prevalence of hepatitis C in this community is higher than in the general population in the UK.  This can be due to receiving medical interventions/dentistry in your country of origin, or the re-use of equipment during traditional wet shaves or piercings.

If you are in any doubt, ask your GP for a test today.  If you would rather not be tested at your GP, we can arrange a confidential and anonymous test here at RIDU.

For more information on hepatitis C visit http://www.hepctrust.org.uk/ or http://www.hepcscotland.co.uk

Our Service

RIDU provides treatment for people diagnosed with hepatitis C within Edinburgh and the Lothians, as well as on-going monitoring and follow up for those who are unable to under-go treatment at present.  We have a dedicated team of nurses, doctors and other professionals who provide a friendly, accommodating and non-judgemental service.

If you have had a positive test at your GP, they will normally refer you automatically to a specialist centre for treatment.  You may have been diagnosed a long time ago and never accessed any care, in which case you simply need to ask your GP, nurse, support worker, or any other health professional you see to get in touch with us.  If you have been seen here in the clinic before, but have since missed a few appointments, give the nursing team a call and we will arrange to see you again.

We work closely with charities and support groups in Edinburgh, as we understand coming to a hospital can sometimes be difficult.  You can contact any of the charities below directly to ask any questions or seek support:

C-Plus http://www.addaction.org.uk/page.asp?section=363&sectionTitle=C+plus+-+Helping+you+live+positively+with+hep+C

Waverley Care http://www.waverleycare.org/

Positive Help http://www.positivehelpedinburgh.co.uk/

Confronting the silent epidemic: a critical review of hepatitis C management in the UK
(April 2013)

Last Reviewed: 09/05/2013