CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly 16 percent of West Virginia’s adult population has diabetes and other residents are being urged to take steps to avoid adding to that number.

Wednesday is World Diabetes Day. Nov. 14 is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin. This is American Diabetes Month and the American Diabetes Association is taking the opportunity to urge those with diabetes to manage it and those who don’t have it to know their numbers.

Tracey Brown

“There are 518,000 people, about 35 percent of the adult population in West Virginia, living with pre-diabetes and they don’t even know it,” American Diabetes Association CEO Tracey Brown told MetroNews Tuesday.

Brown’s organization is urging residents to take risk test to get ahead of any potential problems.

Brown said diabetes is a an “everyday reality” in the U.S.

MORE Read West Virginia diabetes report here 

“There is someone who dies every six-and-a-half minutes from diabetes and its complications. That’s over 228 people a day,” Brown said. “Things like stroke every two minutes. Things like someone being diagnosed with heart disease every 80 seconds.”

Brown said there’s no “silver bullet” in dealing with diabetes. She says it has to come 24/7 management, a good diet and exercise. She said those with Type-2 diabetes shouldn’t blame themselves.

“You have to have the gene. The gene can be triggered by a lot of things but a lot of people assume, wrongly, that if you Type-2 diabetes that somehow you brought that on yourself,” she said.

A strong support system helps those dealing with diabetes, according to Brown.

“This is a 24-by-7 disease. From the moment you wake up every morning you are making thousands of decisions from the time you go to sleep at night so having that strong support system is very important as well,” Brown said.

Last year, according to the American Diabetes Association, total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. were $327 billion.