Hepatitis C infections almost tripled over five years

Toni Houston
May 13, 2017

The number of new infections almost tripled in five years, to about 2,400 in 2015, the AP reports. The disease has few symptoms and testing is so limited, however, that CDC estimates about 34,000 people had hepatitis C in 2015.

Hepatitis C killed about 20,000 Americans in 2015, making it the most fatal infectious disease tracked by the CDC.

There are believed to be between 2.7 million and 3.9 million people in the US with a chronic case of hepatitis C, a viral infection that leads to inflammation of the liver, responsible for an estimated 19,659 deaths in 2014. If left untreated, it can cause liver cancer or scarring of the liver.

"The hepatitis C epidemic has been on the rise".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages needle exchanges as a way to prevent drug addicts from spreading disease. Intravenous drug use is the most common form of transmission in the United States. In 2014, the highest infection rate - 22.6 per 1,000 live births - was in West Virginia, while Tennessee had 10.1 per 1,000.

While there are medications that can resolve hepatitis C infections, they are not approved for pregnant women or children at this point.

Hepatitis C can be successfully treated, treatments are available.

Glass said he sees recovering addicts with hepatitis C in his halfway house every single day.

The metro-Atlanta based agency reports that cases of the deadly virus have tripled in only about 5 years.

In Wisconsin, cases of acute Hepatitis C have skyrocketed, going up 450 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Most people clear the virus on their own after an infection.

It's a problem experts describe as a "dual epidemic" because it's directly tied to opioids such as heroin.

The number of births where a hepatitis C infection was present in the mother at the time of delivery rose 89 percent between 2009 and 2014, from 1.8 to 3.4 per 1,000 live births, according to a study by researchers at Vanderbilt University published Thursday by the CDC. These programs also help link people to treatment to stop drug use, testing for infectious diseases that can be spread to others, and other medical care.

Older, long-infected patients remain the most vulnerable, with more of them living with and dying from the infections. About 3.5 million people, mostly over 55, are infected.

Among the best ways of preventing spread of the virus are public health laws that allow access to clean syringes for drug users, such as needle exchange programs, decriminalization of the possession of syringes, and allowing the retail sale of syringes without a prescription. The importance of this effort was underscored recently by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which in a recent report concluded that eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat in the United States is feasible if the right steps are taken.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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