“I can’t wait.” That’s the theme the World Hepatitis Alliance has chosen for World Hepatitis Day, July 28. The intent is to highlight the need to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis, the importance of testing and treatment, and to amplify the voices of people affected by calling for immediate action and the end of stigma and discrimination.
In our state, we declare that South Carolina Can’t Wait!
With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis. Just consider the ways in which we can’t wait:
- People living with viral hepatitis unaware can’t wait for testing.
- People living with hepatitis can’t wait for life-saving treatments.
- Expectant mothers can’t wait for hepatitis screening and treatment.
- Newborn babies can’t wait for birth dose vaccination.
- People affected by hepatitis can’t wait to end stigma and discrimination.
- Community organizations can’t wait for greater investment.
- Decision makers can’t wait and must act now to make hepatitis elimination a reality through political will and funding.
In South Carolina, hepatitis continues to be a major health burden on many in our communities. Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to liver disease, cancer, and if untreated, death.
In 2021, 476 cases of chronic hepatitis B and 7,243 cases of chronic hepatitis C were diagnosed in South Carolina. In May 2019, DHEC declared a statewide outbreak due to the increased number of hepatitis A cases. While hepatitis A is usually a mild illness, it caused an increased number of hospitalizations during the outbreak.
Based on data through April 30, 2022, the statewide outbreak of hepatitis A is considered to be over. There were 2,239 outbreak-associated case reported through April 30.
The best way to prevent viral hepatitis infection and liver damage is to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B and to be screened for hepatitis C. People diagnosed with hepatitis C can be cured of the infection, and the risk of further liver damage can be reduced.
Hepatitis can’t wait, and we can all do our part to reduce the burden of hepatitis in our communities.
To learn more about hepatitis, please click here. To find hepatitis, STD, and HIV services in your areas, please click here.