BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – Hepatitis C is on the rise in South Carolina as new statistics show the number of those ages 18-29 with the virus has more than doubled in recent years.
“There’s certainly been a rise in chronic Hepatitis C statewide and we’ve seen that increase happening really since 2009… mostly in the sort of younger adult age group,” said Dr. Katy Richardson, Region Medical Director for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that becomes a chronic liver infection for about 75% of those who contract it. Stats from DHEC show 248 cases were reported in 2010, and by 2016, there were more than a thousand.
In the Lowcountry, doctors say they’re seeing more positive Hep C results here at home with the increase in opioid addictions.
“The primary reasons the Hepatitis C virus does get transmitted, is the sharing of needles, syringes, and the other equipment to inject drugs. And we’ve certainly seen an increase in illicit opioid use nationwide including in South Carolina,” she said, “Looking at Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton – those numbers have been increasing for all of those counties.
DHEC offers free testing five times a year. The next one will be on June 27th at any of their offices.