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Thousands unaware they may be infected with Hepatitis C

The executive estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 people in Ireland could be infected with Hepatitis C, more than half of who are not aware of the infection. The HSE urged at risk persons to get tested.

The HSE Service Plan for 2015 provided €30m to support the National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme.

“Hepatitis C is often called “the silent pandemic”, partly because the virus takes so long to manifest itself in those infected,” said Professor Joe Barry.

“Spread largely by blood-to-blood contact, in about 15-30% of cases the body’s natural defences can eliminate the disease. The rest of those infected develop the chronic form of HCV. For most, however, this initially has no discernible symptoms, or non-specific ones such as general fatigue.

“Diagnostic tests are now relatively simple and the treatments are getting better and better with time.”

The HSE is finalising the appointment of a Hepatitis C Treatment Programme Clinical Lead and Programme Manager.

This will ensure the continued rollout of treatment to patients in Ireland with Hepatitis C using the DAAs and the best treatment regimes to improve patients’ lives.

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