Infected blood scandal: Increase in hepatitis C testing – Global News (Trending Perfect)


  • Written by Hugh Pym and Aurelia Foster
  • Health editor and health correspondent

Image source, Charlotte Dickens

Comment on the photo, Charlotte Dickens, who underwent a blood transfusion in 1980, ordered a home kit after reading a BBC story

The Hepatitis C Trust says there has been an increase in demand for hepatitis C tests since the BBC revealed that hundreds of people in the UK had been unknowingly infected with the virus.

Up to 27,000 people became ill when their contaminated blood was transfused from the 1970s until 1991.

If hepatitis is left untreated, it can cause chronic liver disease and can be fatal.

Hepatitis C, known as the “silent killer,” may cause few symptoms at first, with early signs including night sweats, brain fog, itchy skin, and fatigue. But every year a person carries the virus, the chance of dying from liver cirrhosis and related cancers increases.

The Hepatitis C Foundation told the BBC that 12,800 people in England requested home testing kits from the NHS in just over a week, compared to 2,300 in the whole of April.

The charity said it had been “inundated with callers across the UK asking for further advice and tests”.

Rachel Halford, from the charity, said: “It has been amazing to see the public response as they become more aware of the risks of hepatitis C.”

“Most people who get tested will get a negative result and have peace of mind, but it's important to find those individuals who don't know their status so we can get them simple, effective treatment.”

The Sunday Times reported Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will soon unveil a compensation package of at least £10 billion for those affected by the tainted blood scandal.

In an interview with the newspaper, Hunt said he intends to fulfill a promise he made to a voter who died after being infected with contaminated blood.

An official announcement is expected from the government following the publication of the final report of the infected blood investigation on Monday.

Undiagnosed cases

The BBC recently revealed exclusively the true scale of undiagnosed cases of the disease, linked to the infected blood scandal.

The BBC's calculation of 1,700 undiagnosed cases is based on statistics provided to A Public investigation into the infected blood scandal, as well as freedom of information requests for infected blood support schemes.

Official documents, seen by BBC News, revealed how the UK government and the National Health Service failed to adequately track those most at risk of contracting the virus.

The BBC also revealed how authorities had tried hard to limit public awareness of the virus to avoid embarrassing “bottlenecks” in hospital liver units. Testing was limited due to “resource implications for the NHS”.

Charlotte Dickens, 70, is among those who ordered a home testing kit after this story was published, and is awaiting the result.

Ms Dickens, from Surrey, underwent a blood transfusion after suffering a haemorrhage during childbirth in 1980. She said she was “astonished” that she and others were not tested for the disease once the risks became clear.

When news of the scandal first broke, she assumed she was unaffected. “I had no idea about that [hepatitis C]They can remain in place and cause liver cancer. Why haven't we all been tested, what's the answer to that? “It's hard to find an excuse.”

Ms Dickens added that she felt she had to speak out because of the many people who have died as a result of the scandal.

Comment on the photo, Maureen Arkley complained of stomach pain, years before she was diagnosed with hepatitis C

It is known that about 3,000 people have died as a result of receiving contaminated blood products.

But it is believed that many people who contracted hepatitis C also died without knowing it.

Victoria Arkley recently told the BBC that she was angry that her mother, Maureen, died of liver cancer shortly after she was diagnosed with hepatitis C.

She believes she became infected during blood transfusions 47 years ago: “Where was the public health campaign? Why didn't the doctor test her? They knew she had blood transfusions, but no one tested her. I'm very angry.”

What is the tainted blood scandal?

The tainted blood scandal is considered the biggest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Most of those infected were people with blood disorders such as hemophilia, or people who received blood transfusions.

Due to a shortage of blood products in the UK, many were sourced from the US and purchased from high-risk donors such as prisoners and people who abuse drugs.

Although hepatitis C was not officially recognized until 1989, health officials and NHS staff became aware that this type of hepatitis could be fatal as early as 1980.

If you think you may have had a blood transfusion in the 70s, 80s or 90s and have any concerns about your health, you can request a free hepatitis C test in England from the NHS at If you live in Wales details are here. In Scotland, you will need to contact your GP.



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