People are suffering and dying needlessly because they are misinformed about a disease that is among the top five causes of premature death, research has found.
Just 15pc of people know what hepatitis C is, according to a survey which has uncovered worrying misconceptions about the disease.
Almost one third (30pc) of adults incorrectly believe hepatitis C can be spread by the saliva of an infected person and 25pc would avoid close contact with someone carrying the disease despite the fact it is not spread by casual contact.
Hepatitis C affects between 30,000 and 50,000 Irish adults but experts believe this figure is likely to be even higher because there are no symptoms in three out of four cases. This makes it difficult to get a true reflection of the number of people carrying the virus, which causes liver disease.
Dr Jack Lambert, a consultant and specialist in infectious diseases at the Mater and Rotunda hospitals, said further education is vital to prevent the disease from spreading.
"About 750 people got treatment for hepatitis C last year," he said. "Of those, only 25pc were people who had a history of injecting drug use. Most of the people who access treatment are high-functioning people looking for treatment".
Source: Wayne O'Connor, The Irish Independent, 14/05/17