Hepatitis C is a significant public health issue. It has been estimated that in 2003 in England and Wales there were around 190,000 individuals infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is likely that over 80% of current HCV infections are due to injecting drugs and that around 50% of injecting drug users (IDU) in the UK are infected with HCV.
Moreover, of those IDU who are infected, approximately half may be unaware that they are HCV positive. It is likely that HCV prevalence fell during the early and mid 1990s, but the trends have now reversed and among recent IDU HCV prevalence almost doubled between 1998 and 2007.