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Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Heroin epidemic pushing up hepatitis C infections in US

Heroin epidemic pushing up hepatitis C infections in US

Ahead of National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19, the CDC released new statistics highlighting the public health threat posed by hepatitis B and C and a campaign of awareness to promote testing and managed care of the viral infection.

Hepatitis C is related to more deaths in the United States than 60 other infectious diseases.

Infections are growing fastest among Americans in their 20s, because of injection drug use, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diving deeper, Patrick and his colleagues examined individual features associated with hepatitis C infection in Tennessee.

Hepatitis C is characterized by a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, often ending up in serious liver damage. This is particularly worrying because the virus can be transmitted to the baby by blood transfer.

Hepatitis C can be successfully treated, treatments are available. They are at six times more likely to be infected with the virus than the younger generations. Some people may feel briefly unwell and in rare cases may become jaundiced (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Furthermore, the vast majority of patients use injectable drugs. Finally, did the state allow the sale of needles, without prescriptions, to injected drug users?

Much of the initial population for treatment came from baby boomers who contracted the disease decades ago from tainted blood products. You can get tested Wednesday morning during the Senior Fest Health Fair at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Heroin use is climbing in Pierce County and is bringing with it another potentially deadly partner: hepatitis C.

If you are considering having body piercing, ear piercing, a tattoo, semi-permanent make-up or acupuncture, whether in this country or overseas, make sure that any equipment used is sterile.

"We found substantial state-to-state variation in hepatitis C infection rates", Patrick said.

In West Virginia, where the ongoing opioid epidemic has hit hard, the infection rate was 22.6 women per 1,000 live births.

"Cases of acute and chronic hepatitis C in Pierce County are on a dramatic rise, especially among young people", said Kim Desmarais, a viral hepatitis coordinator for the health department.

Tennessee had 10.1 hepatitis C infections per 1,000 live births in 2014.

"Our study found substantially higher rates of HCV among pregnant women in rural and Appalachian counties in Tennessee", said Patrick.

Women are increasingly giving birth to children infected with the liver disease hepatitis C, an 89% increase from 2009 to 2014, pediatrics experts reported on Thursday. "We need to continue to improve access to testing and treatment for hepatitis C", Saddler said. It also makes sure they understand how to stop the spread of the virus, and find treatment options for the disease and for drug addiction. After adjusting for under-ascertainment and under-reporting, an estimated 33,900 new HCV infections occurred in 2015.

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