THE Hepatitis C testing roadshow came to Swindon yesterday to help identify the thousands of people across the country who have the disease but do not know about it.

There are an estimated 519 people in the town who have Hep C, fewer than half of whom are likely to have been diagnosed. A total of 45 per cent of hospital admissions for the disease in the area last year were unplanned.

Leann Lavery, of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: “We have been treating people all day long. We have had a really good awareness campaign and that helped bring people down. “What we find is that once we talk to people about it and give them a positive message about how Hepatitis C is curable they become interested in taking the test.”

Laura Hill, a community health adviser for sexual health at Great Western Hospital, said: “It has been brilliant just to be able to raise the profile of the disease in Swindon.”

Kelvin Marshall, 61, of Westlea, was at the roadshow. He said: “I had a liver transplant off the back of cancer which was caused by Hepatitis C. We traced it back to 1975, and we think I picked it up after I volunteered blood in Afghanistan.

“Towards the end of 2009 I became very ill and checked myself into hospital, where they diagnosed me with the disease and said my liver was completely shot.

“I was lucky to find a new liver if you have a lung problem they can put you on a respirator, but with the liver there is nothing they can do.

“Hep C so easy to pick up that anyone could have it. It costs you nothing to go to your GP to get checked.”