Publication date: July 2012
The most recent national estimates suggest that around 216,000 individuals are chronically infected with hepatitis C (HCV) in the UK; most of this infection (~90%) is genotype 1 and genotype 3.
Injecting drug use continues to be the most important risk factor for HCV infection in the UK. Data from the Unlinked Anonymous Monitoring (UAM) survey of people who inject drugs (PWID) suggest that levels of infection in this group remain high in 2011 (45% in England, 29% in Northern Ireland and 39% in Wales); levels of infection among PWID surveyed in Scotland in 2010 are higher still (55%).
Both hospital admissions and deaths from HCV-related end stage liver disease (ESLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are continuing to rise in the UK. Hospital admissions have risen from 612 in 1998 to 1,979 in 2010, while deaths have risen from 98 in 1996 to 323 in 2010. An overall increase in registrations for liver transplants with a code of post-hepatitis C cirrhosis has been observed from 45 in 1996 to 101 in 2011.
In England, statistical modelling predicts that 15,840 individuals will be living with HCV-related cirrhosis or HCC in England in 2020 if left untreated.
Action plans and work programmes are in place across the UK to help tackle the infection, and public health action is focused in four main areas:
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Last reviewed: 29 August 2012