World Hepatitis Day May 19
COLUMBIA - Free testing for hepatitis C virus will be offered as part
of World Hepatitis Day at many of S.C. Department of Health and
Environmental Control's public health departments, the agency announced today.
"World Hepatitis Day emphasizes the importance of testing for those who are at high risk," said Dr. Jerry Gibson, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control. "Testing is offered throughout the year, but during the week of May 19, testing will be offered free of charge to people whoqualify through a health department assessment of their risks for
"Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C
virus," Dr. Gibson said. "People who are at increased risk for hepatitis
C include anyone with a history of injecting drugs and those who have
been on long-term kidney dialysis. Anyone who received organ or blood
donations prior to July 1992 as well as those who were born to a mother who was infected with HCV are also at risk."
According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
there is no vaccine for HCV, as there is for hepatitis A and B. People
with HCV infection need to be monitored by a physician so they can
receive treatment if their disease progresses. Many who have progressive HCV can live full and healthy lives if they complete medical therapy to fight the virus; however, if left untreated, HCV can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and premature death.
Other facts about HCV:
· HCV is spread when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected.
· HCV is not spread by casual contact.
· HCV is not readily spread through sexual contact.
· HCV is referred to as a "silent epidemic."
· Many people do not have symptoms for decades after they are
· An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 South Carolinians are living with
· Many people living with HCV are co-infected with HIV, the virus
that causes AIDS.
For more information about HCV testing sites, call DHEC’s S.C.
AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437) or visit the DHEC
Web site at: http://www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv.