HUNDREDS of new cases of a sexual transmitted disease were reported in the North East last year.
New figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed more than 250 people were diagnosed with hepatitis C in 201.
A total of 270 new cases of hepatitis C were recorded, compared to 261 cases in 2010.
It is estimated that 216,000 people across the UK are living with the infection.
The figures were set out to coincide with World Hepatitis Day tomorrow.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, which can result in chronic liver disease, liver failure, or even death.
Because the liver is able to work even when damaged, many people initially have no symptoms.
Dr Deb Wilson, hepatitis lead for the HPA in the North East, said: “Many people are unaware that they are infected with the virus because they have no symptoms at all. If people think that they may have been exposed to the virus, it is vital that they contact their GP for a test.
“The earlier they are diagnosed the better, as they will have a greater chance of successfully treating their infection.”
Hepatitis C can be contracted through injecting drugs with unsterile equipment. Others at risk of infection include those who have received blood transfusions before September 1991.