Nurses must see Hepatitis C as a disease, rather than stigmatising people suffering from it, or risk a “major public health emergency”, a charity has warned.
Hepatitis C Trust chief executive Charles Gore said nurses often assume patients with Hepatitis C are drug addicts or alcoholics, and see them as “problem patients”.
A survey by the trust, shared exclusively with Nursing Times, showed that 77 per cent of the 233 Hepatitis C patients questioned have felt stigmatised because of their condition, and more than half have faced discrimination from both the public and healthcare staff.
This could stop patients with Hepatitis C seeking treatment for their condition, or coming forward to be tested if they think they have the disease.
Mr Gore said: “[Nurses]need to try and address Hepatitis C as a disease rather than concentrating on the fact that drug use is a major risk factor.
“Well over 50 per cent of people who have Hepatitis C are not yet diagnosed. This could become a major public health emergency if something is not done to tackle the situation now.”