South Carolinians Urged To Get Tested For Hepatitis B And C

May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Division of STD/HIV/Viral Hepatitis is encouraging South Carolinians to know their status and get tested for hepatitis B and C.
In accordance with National Hepatitis Testing Day, DHEC’s public health clinics in the Midlands, Upstate and Pee Dee regions will offer free hepatitis C tests on Thursday, May 18, and Lowcountry public health clinics will offer free hepatitis C tests on Thursday, May 25. To schedule an appointment, contact your local health department. Free or low-cost hepatitis B tests are available from many community partners.
“Hepatitis is a hidden illness,” said Ali Mansaray, director of the Division of STD/HIV/Viral Hepatitis. “Millions of Americans are living with chronic hepatitis and don’t know they are infected. The only way to find out is to be tested. Detecting viral hepatitis early can help people avoid serious outcomes, such as liver cancer or the need for a liver transplant.”
Hepatitis B and C are serious liver diseases caused by infections of the hepatitis B and C viruses. Although either hepatitis can be a short-term illness, for others it can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious or life-threatening health issues like liver disease or liver cancer. Many individuals who are infected with the hepatitis B or C virus may not know they are infected, and hepatitis can result in death if not treated.
In 2022, 538 cases of chronic hepatitis B and 2,740 cases of chronic hepatitis C were diagnosed in South Carolina. The counties with the highest number of known cases of chronic hepatitis B and C are Greenville, Richland and Charleston.
Despite hepatitis C being curable, there has been an increase in cases largely due to sharing injection drug equipment.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHEC recommend all adults and pregnant women get tested for hepatitis C. DHEC particularly urges all individuals born between 1945 and 1965, anyone who has ever injected drugs even a single time, and those with any other risk factor to get tested for hepatitis C.
The majority of people infected with hepatitis C have either no symptoms or mild symptoms at the time of infection. A large number of adults born between 1945 and 1965 may not be aware they were exposed to the hepatitis C virus during minor medical procedures, including dental care, before current infection control practices were in place. Therefore, widespread testing is important to detect unrecognized hepatitis C infections.
Additionally, the CDC recently updated the recommendations for hepatitis B testing to include all adults at least once in their lifetime, pregnant women during each pregnancy, people with ongoing risk periodically, and anyone who wishes to be tested.
Hepatitis B is spread when blood or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or during pregnancy or delivery.
For more information about STDs and hepatitis sites that provide screenings, call DHEC’s AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437) or visit

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