Ex-addict warns over virus

A FORMER drug addict who turned around his life only to discover he had caught a life-threatening disease is today urging people in Suffolk to get tested for the virus.

A FORMER drug addict who turned around his life only to discover he had caught a life-threatening disease is today urging people in Suffolk to get tested for the virus.

Tom Spark, of Chillesford, near Woodbridge, discovered he was infected with hepatitis C in 2001.

Since then his life has been plagued by tiredness as well as gruelling and painful treatments which tried, and failed, to combat the disease which damages the liver.

Now Mr Spark is adding his voice to a Department of Health campaign to encourage people in Suffolk to get tested for hepatitis C as many people who have it are unaware as it can take years for any symptoms to show.


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Those at risk include people who had blood transfusions before September 1991, injected drugs using shared equipment, or had an unsafe tattoo.

To highlight the campaign there will be an exhibition of portraits of people with the blood-born virus at Ipswich's Buttermarket shopping centre today and tomorrow.

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Mr Spark, 47, said: “When I found out I had hepatitis C I was devastated. I thought I had been lucky and escaped HIV and other diseases you can get if you use drugs, but I was wrong, it had caught up with me and it was a massive blow.

“It means I get really tired. Some days it feels like I'm wading through treacle. It is very depressing to think that you are so ill.”

Despite various treatment Mr Spark, who has a nine-year-old son, knows his only option in the future may be a transplant if his liver does stop working.

He added: “I used drugs back in the seventies and eighties and managed to come clean in 1988 and it is very upsetting that something from so long ago is having such an affect on me now.”

For more information about hepatitis C call the confidential information line on 0800 451451 or visit www.hepc.nhs.uk.

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