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Hepatitis C

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2007, Official Report, column 2298W, on Hepatitis C, what her assessment is of the reasons for the increase in the number of laboratory cases of Hepatitis C in the London region between 2002 and 2006. (129652)

Acute hepatitis C infection usually occurs without symptoms, and there are no laboratory tests to differentiate between acute (recent), chronic (long-standing) or resolved hepatitis C infection. Therefore, trends in the number of laboratory diagnoses reflect the number of individuals being tested, rather than the incidence of infection, and those infections identified may have been acquired years or even decades earlier.

The rise in the number of laboratory diagnoses of hepatitis C in London is likely to reflect greater awareness of hepatitis C and increased testing of individuals as part of the investigation of liver disease (including abnormal liver function), testing in known risk groups or as part of screening (for example for occupational health reasons).