Hepatitis C Cases Increase By Nearly 300% Since 2010
Hepatitis C cases are up nearly 300% since 2010, according to recent reports by the CDC.
Despite better testing and treatment methods, hepatitis C cases continue to rise rapidly. Experts suggest this is due to the rise in intravenous drug use.
This Friday, May 19, is National Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. This is an exceptionally good time to get tested for hepatitis B and C especially considering the spike in hepatitis C cases between 2010 and 2015.
We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and that includes the use of intravenous drugs like heroin. Sharing dirty needles increases the risk of contracting hepatitis C. Drug use is the main risk factor for new hepatitis C (HCV) invention, the CDC said in its report last Friday. The case of HCV is highest among “young persons who inject drugs.”
It is worth noting that the highest case of new HCV infections coincides with states that saw a statistically significant rise in fatal drug overdoses in recent years.
The CDC suggests more initiatives like safe needle exchange programs could help reduce the rates of HCV transmissions:
“To promote HCV prevention, state laws can facilitate access to clean injection equipment, and other services for persons who inject drugs and, thereby be an effective tool to reduce the risk for transmission and stop the increasing incidence of HCV infection in communities, particularly those most affected by the nation’s current opioid epidemic.”
According to the agency, many states currently have policies in place that effectively address the rising HCV rates.
The way hepatitis virus is transmitted can cause acute or chronic infection. Acute HCV is rarely life threatening, however, if left untreated, the infection can progress.
According to the World Health Organization, in some cases, the virus can disappear without treatment.Chronic HCV injections affect the majority (55-85%) of HCVinfected individuals.
Chronic HCV infection can increase the risk of:
- Liver cancer
- Liver failure
About 71 million people live with chronic HCV infection. The number of people living with chronic HCV in the United States is 3.5 million.
However, health officials state this number is likely much higher. This is because symptoms of hepatitis C can be undetected due to the lack of symptoms initially.
“Most people do not know they are infected because people don’t really feel ill until the disease is very advanced,” Dr. John Ward, director of the CDC division of viral hepatitis, told CNN last year.
Hepatitis C is the most common viral hepatitis in the country. It accounted for 19,000 deaths in 2013. According to WHO, each year, close to 399,000 people dies each year from the injection.HCV is associated with more deaths in the U.S than 60 other infectious diseases combined. There is a variety of progress made in the treatment of HCV and the testing of the disease. Therefore, there is no reason why anyone should go untreated. Please learn more about National Hepatitis Testing Day.
If you feel you could be at risk of contracting Hepatitis C, please seek medical attention. There are a variety of testing and treatment options available. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.
Author: Shernide Delva