App helps community leaders identify and treat growing threat of Hepatitis A in Augusta

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

A new app is helping Richmond County community leaders to treat Hepatitis A. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – We’re learning about a growing epidemic here in Augusta: Hepatitis A.

It's a problem all over the state, but Augusta has the second most Hepatitis A cases of any city in Georgia with 172 confirmed cases.

People who are homeless are the most at-risk.

Darryl Willis has experienced homelessness for two years. He says he's never had Hepatitis A, but he knows a lot of people who have.

“It done got pretty bad out here, but they got to do what they got to do to survive,” Willis said. “You can't blame them for that.”

“The numbers that we have are good numbers to identify that it's in the community, but I think it’s highly under-reported -- especially in the population like the homeless where they probably aren't going to seek medical attention every time they get sick,” Richmond County Health Department program manager Jonathan Adriano said.

The number of cases for Hepatitis A has increased across Richmond County starting this past December, and people who are homeless are at higher risk.

“Living in close quarters, the no-hand washing, the hygiene issue, is where we are getting a lot of spread of the disease,” Adriano said.

So the Richmond County District Attorney, the local Housing and Urban Development office and the Marshall's Office are using a new app called Survey123 to help treat the disease.

“We actually went out to the homeless community and offered Hepatitis A shots,” Shaun Roads from the Marshal’s Office said.

They went out and searched for many people who are homeless, took their picture, and collected their data to help support the mission of reducing homelessness and helping people like Willis continue to stay healthy.

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