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Survey reveals public ignorance over hepatitis C

Around a third of people do not know how hepatitis C can be passed from person to person, according to government-commissioned research published this week.

The findings come as a major hepatitis C awareness campaign is launched to reach out to the estimated 100,000 people in England who are unaware they have the infection.

The ICM poll reveals that nearly one in four people do not know that hepatitis C can be passed on by sharing needles when injecting drugs or by using unsterile equipment when getting a tattoo, piercing or acupuncture.

But one in eight wrongly think that hepatitis C can be passed on by kissing and a third of respondents mistakenly believe that there is a vaccine to protect against it.

The radio and press advertising campaign coincides with the 20th anniversary of the virus being identified.

Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: ‘Twenty years down the line, it’s worrying to see the public still believe so many myths around hepatitis C. Education is absolutely essential to eradicating this problem.

‘We are pleased to see the Department of Health campaigning on this issue, but it's now time for both the public and health professionals to take action,’ he said.

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