The Centers for Disease Control report hepatitis C is killing more people than HIV. More than 3.2 million Americans are diagnosed with hepatitis C but only half of them know they have it.
We talked with experts at the Benton Franklin Health District on Tuesday to see if there's been an increase in the numbers locally. They say the number of people with hepatitis C has increased in our area but our numbers are comparatively low.
The most recent study done by the department found there are only about 7 cases in every 100,000 people in our area, a very low number compared to Callam County who has the highest diagnoses. They have more than 118 diagnoses in every 100,000 people.
Doctors see more diagnoses in middle aged patients who realize they have the virus after finding out they have liver cancer or other infections. District Health Officer Dr. Amy Person says there's a reason more people are being diagnosed with the virus now. "That is due to the fact that more people are becoming aware of hepatitis C infections, more people are getting tested for it," said Person.
Hepatitis C is most commonly passed through needles. Doctors say there is no cure for Hepatitis C, but treatment is available. Doctors recommend screening for the virus.