Medicine

Heroin epidemic pushing up hepatitis C infections in US

Heroin epidemic pushing up hepatitis C infections in US

New cases of hepatitis C infections nearly tripled between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "CDC estimates about 34,000 new hepatitis C infections actually occurred in the U.S. in 2015", said the statement.

"While this study focuses on pregnant women and a high-risk area in Tennessee, it is also important to remember that hundreds of thousands of people throughout the USA have hepatitis C, and a large percentage of them do not know it", Jones said. "We feel like the 34,000 estimate is a fairly conservative one and the problem is getting larger". Those individuals aged 20 to 29 account for the "highest overall number of new infections" reported in the surveillance data. Why?

A new study finds waiting to use of blood thinners to treat irregular rapid heart rate increases the risk of dementia. While patients may have known they were infected for years, they had to wait for the new therapies to come along. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there's no vaccine for hepatitis C and it can be fatal if not treated. They are at six times more likely to be infected with the virus than the younger generations.

While there are medications that can resolve hepatitis C infections, they are not approved for pregnant women or children at this point. It's traditionally been about 18 months before Hepatitis C is testable although there are some newer technologies that can do it earlier, he said. Hepatitis C is the most common strain of hepatitis in the USA, being responsible for more than 20,000 deaths each year. "In turn many - most, in some communities - people who inject drugs become infected with hepatitis C".

In West Virginia, where the ongoing opioid epidemic has hit hard, the infection rate was 22.6 women per 1,000 live births. Gilead's Sovaldi costs about $84,000 for a weeks-long regimen. "State laws that increase access to syringe exchange programs and clean needles and syringes, and policies that facilitate access to HCV treatment through state Medicaid programs can reduce HCV transmission risk".

The main transmitter of the disease is dirty needles. "Now we need a substantial, focused, and concerted national effort to implement the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and make effective prevention tools and curative treatment available to Americans in need". Apart from the 91 overdose deaths a day, the opioid epidemic is also responsible for the spike of hepatitis C cases of late.

In the years between 2010 and 2015, scientists and medical health professionals noted the skyrocketing cases of hepatitis C virus infections.

Hepatitis C is characterized by a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, often ending up in serious liver damage. There was a significant increase in HCV among pregnant women, with estimated rates nearly doubling between 2009 and 2014.