Q I had my ears pierced as a teenager at a rather tatty sa­lon. Should I be wor­ried about hep­ati­tis C?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Short Story By Teresa Ashby -

A Hep­ati­tis C is a nasty liver virus, and Pub­lic Health Eng­land says many of the es­ti­mated 200,000 peo­ple who have it (in­clud­ing a third who are over 50) may be un­aware, as the early symp­toms, such as fa­tigue, poor ap­petite, nau­sea, tummy pain, mus­cle pain or fever, are of­ten vague, or blamed on other causes. And al­though it can lead to cir­rho­sis, jaun­dice, liver can­cer and even death, ear­lier, bet­ter-tol­er­ated, and cu­ra­tive treat­ments mean the out­look has im­proved dra­mat­i­cally.

It can be passed in body flu­ids via con­tam­i­nated/ un­ster­ilised med­i­cal, den­tal, tat­too­ing, pierc­ing, or acupunc­ture equip­ment, and cos­metic treat­ments such as elec­trol­y­sis or semiper­ma­nent make-up, so al­ways check equip­ment is ster­ile/sin­gle-use. It can also be caught by shar­ing a drug in­jec­tion nee­dle, toothbrush or ra­zor or un­pro­tected sex with some­one who has it. And any­one who re­ceived a UK blood trans­fu­sion be­fore Septem­ber 1991, or blood prod­ucts be­fore 1986, may also be at risk.

Get­ting tested is free, and of­fered at GP surg­eries, sex­ual health/gen­i­touri­nary (GUM) clin­ics and drug treat­ment ser­vices. Find out more at nhs.uk/con­di­tions/hep­ati­tis-c.

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