Opioid abuse is fueling a rise in hepatitis C cases.
Shared drug needles, risky sex and increased testing are behind a dramatic rise in recent years of a potentially fatal “silent virus.”
New reported cases of chronic hepatitis C among the 18- to 29-year-old age group have more than doubled in South Carolina since 2010, from 6 to 16 percent in 2016, according to records of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. In raw numbers, 1,075 new cases were reported in 2016 for the same age group, up from 248 in 2010.
The rising number of new cases of hepatitis C are an indication that South Carolina has an opioid problem, said Dr. Helmut Albrecht, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the University of South Carolina.
“I am worried,” Albrecht said. “If we don’t take it seriously, it will go up another 50 percent in a couple of years.”
Newly reported cases also have increased among those who are 65 and older, as those who could have contracted what has been known as a baby boomer virus decades ago begin to exhibit symptoms.
You’ve probably seen or heardpharmaceutical companies’ commercials about treatment for hepatitis C.
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