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Number of hepatitis C cases rises

Figures for the number of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C in England last year have jumped by 10%.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there were 8,346 new cases in 2006, up from 7,580 the year before.

It believes increased awareness and testing have contributed to the rise, along with a campaign which saw the number of visits to a dedicated NHS website on the disease double.

Hepatitis C is passed on through contact with infected blood, although on occasions it can also be transmitted through other bodily fluids.

Professor Pete Borriello, director of the HPA's Centre for Infections, said: "The improved public awareness we are seeing for hepatitis C represents a marked change to the position we were in just a few years ago.

"This is good news. The increase in testing and diagnosis of infection will enable more people to gain access to the appropriate treatment and help reduce some of the severe complications of hepatitis that can occur, such as liver cancer.

"However, there is no room for complacency.

"Despite the increase in awareness and diagnosis of hepatitis C, there is still some considerable way to go if the burden of this infection is to be reduced in the future."


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