Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis is a type of damage to the liver. This can be caused by viruses (amongst other things). The two viruses responsible for most infections are called Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses.

These viruses are spread through blood (most commonly medical procedures with unclean instruments, childbirth, piercings etc) or through having sex with someone with the virus.

In some people, they cause liver damage and eventually liver failure, liver cancer and death.

This process is often very slow and for many years people have no symptoms. They feel completely normal and well

Around the world, it is estimated that 257 million people are infected with hepatitis B but only one in 10 of them have been diagnosed.

Do I have hepatitis?

The only way to tell if you have an early infection is with a blood test. This can be done by your GP.

Testing is offered to anyone who has lived in or had medical treatment in a country with high rates of the hepatitis viruses:

This includes all countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Eastern and Southern Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific islands

How to get a hepatitis test

To arrange a test, discuss it with your GP.

If you do not have a GP, you should register with a GP. This is available to all people living in the UK, regardless of their immigration status.


If you are eligible for TB screening (see above), the TB service can test for hepatitis at the same time as your TB test

Testing and treatment

Testing and treatment are free, whatever your immigration status is.

If you have a hepatitis infection confirmed on a test, the GP will refer you to the Hepatitis Team at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. They will explain the treatment options.

Usually, Hepatitis C can be cured with a course of anti-viral medications.

Hepatitis B cannot be cured but medications can slow and often prevent damage to the liver.

There are other infectious diseases that have screening programmes for people who have spent time in certain countries, for example, HIV. View a comprehensive list of national screening and health recommendations for UK migrants broken down by country.