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Hepatitis C Infection Rates Nearly Triple

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By    |   Friday, 12 May 2017 09:16 AM

Hepatitis C infection rates are being driven to new highs by a higher number of people sharing needles primarily from the growing opioid epidemic, according to a new reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report said hepatitis C cases have almost tripled in the past five years, NBC News reported. Hepatitis C, which destroys the liver, usually does not reveal any symptoms until its damage is nearly done

"(Hepatitis C virus) is the most common form of viral hepatitis in the United States and in 2013, accounted for approximately 19,000 deaths per year, a number that was greater than that of 60 other nationally notifiable infectious diseases combined," the CDC said in a statement Friday.

"During 2010–2015, HCV incidence increased by 294 percent with the highest rates among young persons who inject drugs," the statement continued.

Rebekah Gee, the Louisiana health secretary, told USA Today that even though the state faces treating 73,000 people with hepatitis C, her state's Medicaid program can only afford to treat about 300 patients each year.

"The harm that it will cause to not be able to treat this disease is only going to multiply the longer we wait," Gee told USA Today.

Daniel Raymond, policy director for the national Harm Reduction Coalition, has pushed for a needle exchange program to slow the spread of hepatitis C, according to USA Today. Raymond said non-users and first responders can be pricked by contaminated needles and become infected.

"Needle exchange is our first line of defense against the spread of hepatitis C and HIV among people who inject," Raymond told USA Today. "It's also our best on-ramp to health care and treatment for this population.

"Nobody can say that the warning signs weren't there, but the big question is, can the start-up and set-up of syringe exchange programs outpace the spread of hepatitis C?" Raymond added.

CDC researchers found that Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Tennessee and West Virginia have hepatitis C rates at least twice the national average, according to CNN.

Another 10 states have rates above the national average including Alabama, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

"This is primarily a result of increasing injection drug use associated with America's growing opioid epidemic," the CDC said, according to NBC News.

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Hepatitis C infection rates are being driven to new highs by a higher number of people sharing needles primarily from the growing opioid epidemic, according to a new reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
hepatitis c, infection, rates, triple
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2017-16-12
Friday, 12 May 2017 09:16 AM
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