Schedule Your Appointment

Most Asked​

Our Three Easy Steps

  1. Complete This Form
  2. Make An Appointment
  3. Receive Treatment

What You Need to Know About Florida’s Hepatitis C Transmission Rates

Hepatitis C is a health issue that poses risks for all Americans. While rates of infection differ by age group, sex, ethnicity, and state, the important piece of information that everyone needs to know is that overall cases of hepatitis C infection are increasing. Currently, millions of Americans are walking around with this condition. You might be surprised to hear that most aren’t even aware they are infected. In fact, researchers believe that the number of infected people living in the United States right now is between 2.4 million and 4.7 million. If you’re a Florida resident, you may wonder what these stats look like closer to home. This article looks at hepatitis C infection statistics in Florida. It also covers what everyone needs to know about treatment options available to Floridians who have been diagnosed with the condition.

What Are the Rates of Hepatitis C in Florida?

Florida is one of seven states with the highest reported acute cases of hepatitis C. In 2019, these seven top states account for roughly 50% of the nation’s burden of acute cases of hepatitis C. Fortunately, state health officials and care providers have been working hard to spread awareness about seeking diagnosis and treatment. Due to the asymptomatic nature of some hepatitis C transmissions, it’s important to be aware of risk factors related to age and lifestyle that make some Floridians more vulnerable.

How Many People in Florida Have Hepatitis C?

It’s believed that between 150,000 and 200,000 people in Florida currently have hepatitis C. In 2021, the number of deaths related to hepatitis C in Florida was 913. In 2016, local health officials and area doctors became alarmed when the number of newly reported hepatitis C cases in the state rose to 30,000. Among people with chronic hepatitis C, 47% were age 50 or older. Younger people below the age of 30 accounted for 19% of cases. However, this younger category accounted for 37% of cases that were considered either acute or recent.

This increase in cases among the younger demographic was alarming to health officials for two reasons. The first is that the higher risks for HIV infection that are prevalent in places like the Tampa and St. Pete metro areas make the spread of hepatitis C even more dangerous. The second is that the uptick in cases of hepatitis C is likely linked with injection drug use among younger demographics that is part of the opioid epidemic in Florida.

Which Counties in Florida Have the Highest Hepatitis C Rates?

Currently, the rate of acute hepatitis in Florida is 1,692 per 100,000. Miami-Dade County (282 per 100,000), Hillsborough County (123 per 100,000), and Broward County (93 per 100,000) are among the counties with the highest hepatitis C rates. These statistics underscore the importance of readily available information and treatment resources for Florida residents who may be at high risk for transmission. If you believe that you are in this category, it’s important to continue reading to the end of this post to learn more about available screening and treatment options.

How Is Acute Hepatitis C Different From Acute Hepatitis C?

Both variations of this condition should be taken extremely seriously. Acute hepatitis C is a viral infection that lasts anywhere from several weeks to several months. The main characteristic of acute hepatitis C is that it produces symptoms. Common acute hepatitis C symptoms include fatigue and vomiting. However, it’s possible to experience no symptoms at all. This is why it’s quite easy for someone who is infected to spread the disease to others without knowing it. In many asymptomatic cases, the infection may either resolve on its own or improve without any treatment. However, somewhere between 75% and 85% of cases of acute hepatitis C will lead to chronic infection. In the case of chronic hepatitis C, a person experiences a long-lasting and symptomatic stage of the disease. This can manifest through:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Digestive distress
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Cognitive issues
  • Pale stool
  • Vulnerability to bruising

When left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can be fatal. The most common complication associated with chronic hepatitis C is liver failure. In fact, 3% to 6% of people with hepatitis C will experience liver failure. People with the condition can also experience permanent liver damage or liver cancer.

Fast Facts on Hepatitis C: Do I Need to Be Concerned About Contracting Hepatitis C in Florida?

What is hepatitis C? While you may be concerned about your risk level after seeing recent health bulletins about increased rates of hepatitis C in Florida, you might still be confused about how this illness affects the body. Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is spread through contact with blood from an infected person. While many people remain asymptomatic after becoming infected, they may already be in an advanced phase of liver disease by the time symptoms appear.

Risk Factors for Contracting Hepatitis C in Florida

There are several risk factors that can increase a person’s odds of contracting hepatitis C. As a bloodborne illness, hepatitis C can be transmitted any time there is contact with another person’s blood. Here’s a look at situations that can potentially spread hepatitis C:

  • Sharing needles, syringes, or any type of drug-injection equipment
  • Sharing straws used to snort substances
  • Birth when a mother is infected with hepatitis C
  • Exposure in healthcare settings when steps to prevent the spread of bloodborne infections are not followed
  • High-risk sex practices
  • Sex with a person infected with hepatitis C
  • Unregulated tattoos or body piercings in settings where instruments have not been properly sterilized
  • Having HIV
  • Sharing razors, nail clippers, tweezers, toothbrushes, glucose monitors, or other items that may contain trace amounts of infected blood
  • Use of dialysis equipment that has not been properly cleaned

If you have a partner or spouse with hepatitis C, this also increases your chances of contracting the disease. The same goes for anyone who is tasked with caring for a person with hepatitis C. Overall, being in close daily contact with an infected person can increase your risks for contraction.

How Is Hepatitis C Treated Today?

It’s important for people to know that there currently is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Unfortunately, there is some confusion over this topic due to the fact that vaccines exist to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is through avoiding behaviors that can lead to the spread of this disease.

Getting an early diagnosis of hepatitis C has a drastic impact on the health outcomes of people who become infected. While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, modern treatments can actually cure most newly infected people within eight to 12 weeks. This is why routine testing for hepatitis C is also recommended for people with certain risk factors. You should be tested for hepatitis C if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • You are 18 years of age or older
  • You are pregnant
  • You are currently injecting drugs
  • You have ever injected drugs
  • You have been diagnosed with HIV
  • You have received abnormal test results from a liver test
  • You currently have liver disease
  • You are on hemodialysis
  • You received donated blood or organs before July 1992
  • You received clotting factor before 1987
  • You have potentially been exposed to blood from a person infected with hepatitis C
  • You have definitely been exposed to blood from a person who has hepatitis C
  • You were born to a mother infected with hepatitis C at the time of birth
  • You came into contact with a needle or piece of equipment at work that may not have been properly sterilized
  • You’re experiencing any of the symptoms associated with hepatitis C

It’s generally recommended for every adult to be tested for hepatitis C at least once in their life. A test called an HCV antibody test uses blood samples to look for antibodies in the bloodstream. People who test positive for HCV antibodies are given a follow-up nucleic acid test (NAT) for HCV RNA to confirm a current infection. On average, it takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for results to come back. However, rapid testing is available at some clinics. Talk to a healthcare professional right away if you believe you may have been exposed to hepatitis C.

Modern Hepatitis C Treatments Available in Florida

Currently, there are a number of FDA-approved treatments for hepatitis C that clients can access at health clinics after being diagnosed. Treatments for both acute and chronic cases of hepatitis C involve several weeks of oral therapy in the form of pills. These pills can cure over 90% of cases of hepatitis C with very few side effects. Of course, prevention is still considered the best course of action for preventing severe health consequences.

Getting Treatment for Hepatitis C in Florida

If you’re concerned that you’ve been exposed to hepatitis C, it’s important to take action immediately to ensure that you can benefit from treatments that have a high cure rate for this disease. However, it’s also important to take a comprehensive approach to whole-body care if you believe that you’ve been exposed. That’s because many of the same risk factors that apply to hepatitis C exposure also apply to HIV exposure. Due to shared modes of transmission, a high proportion of adults at risk for hepatitis C infection are also at risk for HIV infection. This is where it becomes helpful to know about nPEP (Non-Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) for reducing the risk of HIV infection after possible exposure to the virus.

Here at LifeLine Health in Florida, our team of healthcare professionals is dedicated to improving access to potentially life-saving nPEP medication to help prevent HIV infection. We provide a supportive, informative environment where you can feel at ease about asking questions. Based on the information you share with us, we’ll work with you to help determine if prescribing nPEP is an appropriate step. In addition, our team will provide the support you need to stay on track with your medication.

Potential exposure to bloodborne illnesses doesn’t have to control your future! The team at LifeLine is at the forefront of helping Floridians feel empowered about their health decisions. Are you dealing with a hepatitis C scare in Broward County, Hillsborough County, or another part of Florida? Contact us today to book an easy consultation!

Listen To What Our Patients Say…

Cristina Anderson

I am thankful to the nice people at Lifeline Health. I was so scared when I found out I had been exposed. They guided me and made me feel so at ease. I have not had an issues and I know it's because I went to Lifeline Health first.

Juan Bustamonte

Thankfully there are places like Lifeline Health to get tested. This place is lowering the risk for our community by educating us and providing the resources to stay healthy. They are making positive changes in the community.

Let's Talk Privately

Connect with a Lifeline Health staff member in-person at your local health center to receive the care you need. You can conveniently make an appointment online to get started.