Hepatitis C cases increase rapidly among young in S Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The proportion of new hepatitis C cases contracted by young people South Carolina has more than doubled in South Carolina in six years.

Department of Health and Environmental Control said people ages 18 to 29 contracted 16 percent of the new chronic cases of the liver infection in 2016. That young age group was responsible for only about 6 percent of new cases in 2010.

University of South Carolina infectious disease specialist Dr. Helmut Albrecht told The State newspaper the biggest culprit in the increase is the opioid problem as drug users share infected needles.

South Carolina is following a national trend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say new cases of hepatitis C infection have nearly tripled nationwide in the past five years.

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