Program launches to stop growing number of hepatitis C cases

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A new initiative is launching in Indiana to cut down on the growing number of hepatitis C cases.

HepConnect is multi-million dollar campaign across multiple states.

Hepatitis C is an illness spread through blood and experts believe there's a link between the rising number of cases and the rising number of opioid users. There are an estimated 50,000 people living in Indiana with hepatitis C. The CDC says roughly half don't know they have it.

HepConnect will use the $11.3 million for education, screenings and healthcare infrastructure.

Derek Spencer, the executive director with FOCUS at Gilead Sciences, says young people are at risk.

"We know that there’s an unfortunate connection between IV drug use and the opioid epidemic. [What's] really alarming for us to understand is that a good amount of persons that are being affected with hepatitis C are young people under the age of 30 who have found themselves in the opioid crisis with some IV drug use," Spencer said.

Mobile buses will also drive around the community offering free screening and  resources for drug users.

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