Hepatitis C infection rates are rising sharply.
The incidence of Hepatitis C has tripled in the past five years, with millennials making up the fastest growing group of those infected, health officials say.
And about half of those infected may not even know they have the potentially fatal disease.
Up to 3.9 million people have Hepatitis C, or HCV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were about 34,000 new infections in 2015, with the number reaching a 15-year high in five years.
In South Carolina, the number of chronic HCV cases grew from 3,258 in 2011 to 4,668 in 2015, with the rate increasing from 70.4 per 100,000 population to 97.8, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
While three quarters of sufferers are baby boomers, new infections are increasing fastest among those 20 to 29, CDC reports.
The numbers are up across all age groups in South Carolina, but nearly doubled from 280 to 542 among those 18 to 29 between 2011 and 2015, according to DHEC.
“Historically, most at risk are the baby boomers,” said Dr. Robert Johnson, a Bon Secours physician at Powdersville family practice.
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