Action on a ‘silent killer’ in our midst

Concerns have been raised about the rising number of people in South Holland with hepatitis C.

Almost 2,000 people have the virus across the county, which has been called the silent killer as it is difficult to detect.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that predominantly infects the cells of the liver, causing inflammation and significant damage.

The East Midlands has the second highest figures across the country, after London. Estimates suggest that 14,994 people have hepatitis C in the East Midlands with 1,881 in Lincolnshire alone.

This has been linked to the number of Eastern Europeans in the area. In Poland, between 560,000 and 700,000 have hepatitis C, but fewer than 50,000 have been diagnosed. Romania and Bulgaria also have high hepatitis C rates which are estimated at more than three per cent.

A spokesman for The Hepatitis C Trust said: “Eradicating hepatitis C is a global effort and reaching out to the UK’s diverse population is a priority. We employ a South Asian officer and have run awareness campaigns targeted at Central and Eastern European populations.”

The Trust’s outreach and testing van recently visited Lincolnshire, offering clear information and advice from trained staff as well as on the spot rapid antibody testing.

Symptoms are generally mild and vague, including a decreased appetite, fatigue, nausea, muscle or joint pains and weight loss.

The Trust spokesman said: “It can be asymptomatic, so it’s imperative that people know the facts and get tested.”

Anyone with concerns can call the Trust helpline on 0845 223 4424 on Mondays to Fridays between 10.30am and 4.30pm.