New Hepatitis C Infections Hit 15-Year High: CDC

Hepatitis C in the US: Cases triple in past 5 years

Hepatitis C infections tripled in five years

New cases of hepatitis C have almost tripled in the past five years, driven mostly by people sharing needles to inject drugs, federal health officials said Thursday.

America's opioid crisis is believed to be the leading cause behind a huge spike in hepatitis C cases among young adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.

"Recent CDC research has identified increasing injection drug use - tied to the USA opioid epidemic - in rural and suburban areas across the country", said Dr. John Ward, an author of the new report and director of the division of viral hepatitis at the CDC. Nationally reported infections grew from 850 cases in 2010 to 2,436 cases in 2015, and those affected were young people between the ages of 20 and 29. Most people don't get sick for many years after they are infected.

The United States Depart of Health and Human Services estimates that about 3.2 million Americans have the disease, many who don't even realize they're infected. 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. Some experts say that one reason heroin use has soared is because the illegal drug has become much cheaper than prescription opioid painkillers and due to new limits on dispensing of the addictive legal pain medicines. 'West Virginia had the highest prevalence of infection among pregnant women - 1 in 50 newborns were exposed to the virus'.

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Regions hardest hit by opioid overdose deaths were also most likely to see jumps in hepatitis C, the report noted. "It is seen as a tool to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C".

Louisiana health secretary Rebekah Gee is exploring ways to obtain a generic form of a drug to fight hepatitis C to treat the 73,000 people in her state who now have the disease.

Between 2 million to 4 million people in the USA have hepatitis C, Skorney said. 02;15-22 Dr. RaviVemuri/Infectious Disease Physician "they share needles orreuse needles or use foundneedles somewhere".

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that damages the liver.

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"As the opioid epidemic has continued to evolve, there has been an uptick in heroin and now fentanyl-related complications", said Patrick. He says they should also use syringe exchange programs, though there are only about half a dozen in the state.

"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 in a statement.

There is no vaccine for HCV, but there are treatments that can cure HCV infection.

The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) comes forth a week before National Hepatitis Testing Day, which is celebrated each year on May 19.

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