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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Huge posters focus on hepatitis C
Nick Green
Nick Green was not diagnosed for 20 years
A lecturer who had hepatitis C for 20 years without knowing it will be featured in a new awareness campaign.

Nick Green of Nottingham was diagnosed with the disease a year ago, two decades after blood tests showed problems with his liver.

An exhibit, to run across the UK, will include a 3m-high poster of Mr Green.

Hepatitis C is carried in the blood and can be transmitted by shared needles in drug use, or by improperly sterilised needles in tattooing or ear piercing.

There is a small chance the virus can also be passed on through sexual contact.

Symptoms of hepatitis C can include fatigue, weight loss, insomnia and depression.

Mr Green has the disease despite falling outside the high risk categories.

People need to take a few minutes out of their day to step back and face their pasts
David Marks, Hepatitis C sufferer and ex-Beach Boy

"My main symptom was a lot of extreme pain in my liver - and stomach area, also extreme fatigue, loss of concentration and appetite, mood swings and depression.

"I felt ill every day and still do - with insomnia alongside that - not able to relax and sleep well."

The photo exhibit of people living with hepatitis C - prepared by photographer Michele Martinoli, was first unveiled in London's Leicester Square in March.

The Nottingham exhibit at the city's Market Square will be held on 7 and 8 July.

'Social stigma'

Former Beach Boys band member David Marks, who also has hepatitis C, said 80% of the estimated 200,000 people infected in the UK are unaware of their condition, which can go undetected for up to 30 years.

Mr Marks said: "People need to take a few minutes out of their day to step back and face their pasts, have I ever injected drugs using shared equipment, even just once?

"Have I had an unsafe tattoo or piercing? If the answer is yes, call the Hepatitis C Information Line for advice about hepatitis C and whether you should consider being tested."

Ms Martinoli, who also had hepatitis C, said: "There is a social stigma around the disease caused by lack of awareness.

Blood transfusions

"It's important that we bring hepatitis C out of the shadows to get people to face up to the illness in the same way we did with HIV in the eighties and nineties."

Hepatitis C is usually spread by the transfer of blood from person-to-person, for example through the sharing of needles or syringes when injecting drugs.

Those at risk include people who have had a blood transfusion before screening for hepatitis C was introduced in 1991.

Some people have no symptoms, while others may feel tired and have abdominal discomfort.

BBC's Karl Cooper
"Symptons included severe pain, depression and insomnia"

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