What is Hepatitis C?
(This service is only available to existing Preventicum Clients)
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection which predominately infects the liver. Although there is no vaccine available to protect against the infection, there is an effective treatment. It has been estimated that there could be 200,000 people in England who could have the virus, but 80% are unaware they have it because it can take years or even decades before the symptoms to appear.
The Hepatitis C virus is usually transmitted by blood to blood contact. For example, through needle sharing when using recreational drugs or tattoo or body piercing with equipment that is not sterile. Before 1991 the virus was not identified so blood transfusions were a common route of infection. Since 1991 all blood is now screened for the virus. It can be transmitted sexually but this is much less common. In many cases, the original source of infection is not known.
Unfortunately, because it often does not cause symptoms, sometimes for decades, it is possible to have Hepatitis C without being aware of it. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 people fall into this category. Sometimes it can cause vague symptoms such as general fatigue and nausea which can go largely unnoticed.
Hepatitis C infection can over many years lead to chronic liver disease. About 1 in 5 people can go onto develop cirrhosis of the liver. The good news is that there are treatments available which can improve the situation and reduce this risk.
The Hepatitis C virus if present will cause the body to produce antibodies. A blood test to look for these antibodies is a way of detecting whether you have been infected with the Hepatitis C virus. We can carry out this test for you at Preventicum and will usually have the result within 24 hours.
The cost of the antibody blood test is £195 at Preventicum and this includes pre-test counselling by a doctor.
If the antibody test is positive, the laboratory that we use will repeat the test again. If it is still positive, you will be recommended to have a more specific test looking for part of the Hepatitis C genetic code. This is a test called a PCR test and we can carry this out for you for an additional cost of £250 which includes a consultation with our Medical Director. We can also refer you on to a liver specialist in the private sector for further advice, treatment and monitering.
There are a number of potential implications to consider before undertaking the Hepatitis C test. We would briefly counsel you before allowing you to undertake the test. In general however, it is much better to know if you have Hepatitis C than not to, because there is a treatment available that can improve matters.
Just contact us at Preventicum on 020 7605 6900 and ask to book in for this test. This is an entirely confidential service and your results are held in complete confidence.