‘Silent killer’ warning as people still diagnosed with ‘bad blood’ after vague symptoms

The Hepatitis C Trust has warned that people are still being diagnosed with a “silent killer” infection following the tainted blood scandal – people have been urged to get tested.

The Hepatitis C Trust is calling on everyone who received a blood transfusion in their 70s, 80s or early 90s to be tested for the virus. (Alamy/PA)

Anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1991 should be tested for hepatitis C, a leading charity has said, warning that people continue to be diagnosed with the “silent killer” infection following the hepatitis C scandal. contaminated blood.

The Hepatitis C Trust said around two people were diagnosed with the infection every month, after receiving a blood transfusion in the 1970s, 1980s or early 1990s following an accident, operation or during childbirth . Many will have had “vague” symptoms, meaning GPs may not have realized they were infected.

The charity warned that late diagnoses can lead to irreparable liver damage. The public inquiry into the tainted blood scandal, considered the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, is due to publish its final report on May 20. Tens of thousands of people have been infected with hepatitis or HIV after receiving infected blood or blood products. As a result, at least 3,000 people have died and a significant proportion are living with long-term health problems.

Samantha May, who runs the Hepatitis C Trust helpline, told the PA news agency the oldest person she helped was 89 and had a blood transfusion in the early 1970s , while the youngest was in her thirties and had received a transfusion of infected blood. in the early 1990s.

She said: “The majority of calls we deal with are people who have received transfusions, which means they will be people who have had road accidents, pregnancy, operations, maybe other medical conditions requiring blood. about two people on average per month now in 2024, and that’s been consistent over the last five or six years or so, who are just being diagnosed now.

“They didn’t know they were infected until 1991, in the ’70s, because of blood transfusions they received for various causes. It’s huge for them to find out they have a disease like Hepatitis C is very scary.” disease, it can be life-threatening, it can cause serious liver damage, and for some people it can lead to liver cancer. So for people to discover it decades later, there are a lot of things to consider. around a diagnosis like this.

Samantha May, of the Hepatitis C Trust, said anyone who received a blood transfusion before the 1990s should be tested for the virus.(PENNSYLVANIA)

“The message is: If you received a blood transfusion before 1991, you should get tested, regardless of how you feel. It is often called a silent killer, because it is very common for people to “Hepatitis C sufferers suffer from this disease for decades with little or no risk of vague, intermittent symptoms,” she added.

“It’s best to know that if you know you have it, there is a fantastic treatment, you can get rid of it very easily these days with literally one tablet a day over a period of eight to 12 weeks. If you don’t don’t know,” If you have it, the longer you have it, the more likely you are to progress to liver damage.