The virus can be commonly picked up through dental, cosmetic, or health procedures abroad, or via tattoos and piercings.
People are being urged to take a free hepatitis C test amid fears thousands may have unknowingly contracted the disease abroad.
The blood-borne virus can be picked up through dental, cosmetic, or health procedures, or via tattoos and piercings, it added.
This can happen when equipment is not sterilised or hygiene measures are not followed – but also through sharing domestic items like razors and toothbrushes.
It can often take years to produce any symptoms, but can later cause muscle aches, fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, stomach ache, and feeling sick.
Left untreated, it can lead to life-threatening conditions like liver cancer or liver failure.
More than three-quarters don’t know it can be contracted from having a tattoo or piercing, and a similar number do not realise you can live with it for years without any signs, according to a survey.
The father-of-one, then 30, spent two months in a hospital in the country after a motorbike accident.
He said he was “shocked” when he tested positive in hospital earlier this year after an accident at the gym.
“I wish I’d known back then about the risk of hepatitis C from medical treatment overseas,” he said.
“What I’ve found really hard since being diagnosed is the stigma and lack of understanding about hepatitis C.
“Lots of people think it just affects people who use drugs. I’ve had people mix it up with HIV and all kinds of things.
“We need to make more people aware of the virus and get more people to test.”
Anyone over 18 in England can get a free test delivered to their home via the NHS.
It involves a finger prick, with a small blood sample dropped into a test tube and sent off for laboratory analysis.
Sexual health clinics, drug treatment services, and GPs also offer testing, and the NHS says early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing liver damage and ensuring the infection isn’t passed on.
While there is no vaccine for the disease, there are simple treatments available, including tablets.
Using the latest medicines, the NHS says more than 90% of hepatitis C patients may be cured.
Source: Sky Technology