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Police at very low risk of hepatitis C infection

Police at very low risk of hepatitis C infection from contact with public, Hepatitis Foundation say

Earlier this month Dunedin Police Officers were exposed to saliva from a person infected with hepatitis C, resulting in publicity claiming that the officers could become infected with the hepatitis C virus.

The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand strongly believes the risk of infection from saliva is very low as hepatitis C is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact.

News stories published on the 11th and 12th of April 2018 claimed the Police Officers 'face an anxious wait' to find out if they were infected with hepatitis C after being spat at by a person living with the virus. Dr Alex Lampen-Smith, Clinical Director at The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand, says the risk of contracting hepatitis C from saliva is extremely low. “The suggestion that exposure to saliva is likely to pass on hepatitis C is simply incorrect and spreads harmful misinformation. Misinformation about the transmission of hepatitis C can result in marginalising a community group further."

• The National Health Service in the UK states that hepatitis C is not be spread by exposure to saliva such as during kissing or sharing kitchen utensils.
• Hepatitis C is a virus which infects the liver and is spread by exposure to infected blood.
• The Ministry of Health states hepatitis C can be acquired by sharing contaminated injecting needles, receiving blood products prior to 1992, living or receiving medical treatment in a high-risk country (including China, Pakistan, India, Egypt and Russia), being born to a mother with hepatitis c and having tattoos or piercings done with unclean equipment.

Do you live with hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C can now be easily and safely treated with the development of new age treatments. People living with hepatitis C are encouraged to discuss treatment with their General Practitioners or see the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand website for more information.

About the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand
The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand is a not-for-profit organisation which provides a long-term follow-up programme for people living with chronic hepatitis B. This Programme provides Hepatitis B patients with ongoing monitoring and follow-up to help improve health outcomes. The Foundation also provides information and support to those affected by the hepatitis C virus.


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