In a national survey conducted by Hepatitis Australia revealed that vast majority of Australians have a disturbingly low knowledge of hepatitis B and C.

The survey found that most people are not aware of the symptoms of hepatitis C and that it is curable.

Eight to 85 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed around the country did not know that hepatitis B and C can cause cancer.

Forty-five per cent wrongly believe hepatitis C can be transmitted by saliva, while 68 per cent mistakenly think it is sexually transmitted.

Hepatitis B on the other hand is a sexually transmissible infection, yet only 56 per cent of respondents knew this, Stuart Loveday, president of Hepatitis Australia, said in a statement on Monday.

More than 80 per cent of respondents feel more public education about hepatitis B and C is needed.

A government-funded social marketing campaign is desperately needed to address the confusion if we are to stem the 10,000 new infections occurring annually within Australia, improve current treatment rates and enhance the health and wellbeing of people with viral hepatitis, Mr Loveday said.

National Hepatitis Week runs from May 17-May 23.

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