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Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis Chot!Tooltip 02/09/2011 Hits: 17689
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus which is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact and principally affects the liver. 20% of people spontaneously clear the virus from their body within 6 months; the remaining 80% go on to develop chronic hepatitis C, which can go unnoticed for many years. Liver damage typically occurs slowly over 20-30 years and can lead to liver scarring (fibrosis), cirrhosis and ultimately to liver cancer or liver failure and death. People sometimes only become aware of it when they develop liver cancer or advanced cirrhosis by which time it can be too late. There are an estimated 200 million people worldwide infected with hepatitis C; in the UK 500,000 are thought to be infected but only 50,000 have currently been diagnosed. The virus was first discovered in 1987 and a test for the hepatitis C virus was first introduced in the UK in 1991. Before this its existence was deduced from the fact that something, other than the hepatitis A or hepatitis B viruses, was causing liver inflammation (hepatitis),