Tag Archives: hepatitis

DHEC Encourages Vaccinations and Screenings for World Hepatitis Day

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, and this year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.” This theme was chosen by the World Hepatitis Alliance because testing, vaccination, and treatment for hepatitis can’t wait, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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 death if untreated. Hepatitis A, while usually a mild illness, has caused increased hospitalizations during the ongoing outbreak in South Carolina that began in 2018. 

In 2019, 527 cases of chronic hepatitis B and 7,022 cases of chronic hepatitis C were diagnosed in South Carolina. Additionally, 2,000 hepatitis A cases have been identified since the outbreak began in November 2018.  

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.  

DHEC In the News: Smoking Ban Expansion, HopeHealth Team Recognition, & Limiting the Spread of Hepatitis A

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

Columbia Bans Vaping in Bars and Restaurants, Expands Smoking Ban

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Free Times) – After months of discussion, Columbia City Council has approved an extensive update to its smoking ordinance, prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in places — like bars and restaurants — where traditional smoking was already banned.

 

HopeHealth dietitians/lifestyle coaches earn state recognition

FLORENCE, S.C. (SC Now) – Three of HopeHealth’s Diabetes and Nutrition Institute team members were among a dozen individuals recently recognized by the South Carolina Public Health Association as recipients of the Voice of Public Health Award.

 

DHEC working to limit spread of hepatitis A

SUMTER, S.C. (The Sumter Item) – Although South Carolina is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, it is mild compared with the widespread outbreaks in other states, some of which have reported cases in the hundreds and even thousands.

#KnowYourStatusSC: Get Hep Tested on May 20

In recognition of National Hepatitis Testing Day, DHEC clinics statewide will offer FREE Hepatitis testing on Monday, May 20.  Here are 5 fast facts about hepatitis.

  • Viral Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Your liver is the largest organ and helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons.
  • There are three strains of hepatitis: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.  Viruses cause most cases of hepatitis.  Drug and alcohol use can also cause hepatitis.
  • Symptoms include: loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements, stomach pain, and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes).  Some people may not experience any symptoms.
  • Most people who are infected with Hepatitis develop a chronic, or long-term, infection.
  • In the United States, hepatitis C is responsible for more deaths than all other reportable infectious diseases.

Hepatitic C Stats_2018 SC Health Assessment

In South Carolina, approximately 75 males (per 100,000) were living with hepatitis C compared to approximately 44 women.  Are you at risk for getting Hepatitis?  Take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Risk Assessment and find out.

Check your DHEC local public health clinic for more information about FREE Hepatitis Testing Day.

DHEC offering Free Hepatitis Testing during Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, and while National Hepatitis Testing Day is on May 19, DHEC’s health departments will be providing free testing on May 16.  Know Hepatitis LogosAppointments are encouraged. Please call 1-855-4-SCDHEC (472-3432) to schedule your appointment.

There are many strains of the hepatitis virus but for this year’s Hepatitis Awareness Month DHEC is focusing on Hepatitis A, B, and C, the major causes of contagious liver disease. The department urges anyone who has ever injected drugs, even once, and individuals born between 1945 and 1965, to talk with their healthcare professional about getting tested for hepatitis C and ask if they should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis A is highly contagious. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A may occur in the context of community-wide epidemics, or from exposures to food contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. It can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex, needle-sharing by IV drug users or caring for someone who is ill.

Both Hepatitis B and C are usually spread when blood or another body fluid from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis B and C virus infections cause some people to develop an acute, or short-term, illness, while others develop a chronic, or long-term, illness.

In 2016, there were 33 cases of acute hepatitis B and 457 cases of chronic hepatitis B reported in South Carolina. Hepatitis B cases were on a steady decline nationally after the widespread use of the hepatitis B vaccine, but in recent years that rate of decline has slowed.

Nearly half of people living with the hepatitis C virus have no symptoms and don’t know they are infected. The vast majority of new infections go undiagnosed. In South Carolina, almost 6,000 people were reported with chronic hepatitis C in 2016. Of those, the majority were baby boomers who were born between 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers are six times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than those in other age groups. They are also at a much higher risk of death from the virus.

Nationally, the number of new hepatitis C infections has nearly tripled over five years, reaching a 15-year high. The greatest increases and the highest overall number of cases were among young people ages 20-29 who inject drugs.

Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B but not C.

For more information about viral hepatitis and where to get tested visit www.scdhec.gov/ViralHepatitis or call the STD/HIV Hotline at 1-800-322-2437.

Why You Need to Know About Hepatitis

By Linda Brown, MPH, DHEC Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator

May is National Viral Hepatitis Awareness Month and, on May 19, South Carolina joins the nation in observing Hepatitis Testing Day. That day is set aside to emphasize the importance of being tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is estimated that between 70,000 and 85,000 people in South Carolina are living with chronic hepatitis C. According to the CDC, HCV killed more than 20,000 Americans in 2014.

What you don’t know can hurt

Because many people who are infected with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection, and it often doesn’t cause symptoms until it has caused advanced liver disease, getting tested is vitally important to curing and preventing the spread of this disease.

More than three million Americans in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C, but as many as 50 percent don’t know they are infected.

This often silent but potentially deadly virus infects the liver, and most people can live with the infection for many years without feeling sick. By the time a person shows symptoms, they are often in an advanced stage of liver disease, including cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Am I at risk?

Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Take the CDC’s simple risk assessment to help determine if you  should seek testing: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/.

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One of the main groups that need to be tested for Hepatitis C are baby boomers – people who were born from 1945-1965. Seventy-five percent of people with hepatitis C were born during these years, so it is recommended that all baby boomers be tested at least one time in their lives, regardless of any other risk factors.

Another priority group that should get tested is anyone who has ever injected drugs into their body.

There’s a cure

New medications are available that are highly effective that can provide a cure within eight to 12 weeks. This is why DHEC staff, in collaboration with community partners, encourage people to talk to their health care provider about their risk for HCV.

Be #HepAwareARE YOU AT RISK? Millions of Americans have VIRAL HEPATITIS. Most don't know it. Take this online assessment to see if you're at risk. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/

Learn more about HCV, take the risk assessment quiz and talk to your healthcare provider about testing and treatment. Getting a simple blood test is a vital first step into knowing if you have hepatitis C and getting care and treatment if you need it. Visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

 

 

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