The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $1.3 million to a New Mexico researcher to delve deep into the state’s growing hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

Kimberly Page, chief of epidemiology at the University of New Mexico Hospital, will team up with other scientists to explore hep C prevalence, options for care and prevention tactics across the state.

The study will focus on rural areas, where new HCV cases are occurring mostly among people who inject drugs. The researchers also will work with the New Mexico Department of Health to study hep C among young people.

About 500 people will be enrolled in the study with half HCV positive and half at risk for the virus.