CDC blames rise in Hepatitis C infections on opioid epidemic

This map from the new study shows the rate of hepatitis C infections among pregnant women per 1,000 live births by state in 2014. The highest rates are in rural parts of West Virginia and Tennessee, which have been hard-hit by

This map from the new study shows the rate of hepatitis C infections among pregnant women per 1,000 live births by state in 2014. The highest rates are in rural parts of West Virginia and Tennessee, which have been hard-hit by

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) almost tripled, reaching a 15-year high, according to new surveillance data released by the agency. So the CDC thinks the reported cases are only a fraction of actual infections.

"Baby boomers are six times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than those in other age groups and are at much greater risk of death from the virus", said the CDC.

New treatments for hepatitis C with a cure rate of over 95 percent from Gilead Sciences GILD.O , AbbVie ABBV.N and other drugmakers have the ability to virtually wipe out the disease, which can lead to cirrhosis, cancer, the need for a liver transplant or death.

The study joins other evidence pointing to the devastating effects of opioid abuse on hepatitis C rates.

The report, which was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that reported cases of HCV increased by 294% between 2010 and 2015.

A new breakthrough drug that cures Hepatitis C is so expensive that many people can not afford it - even with a drug benefit on their health insu... 'West Virginia had the highest prevalence of infection among pregnant women - 1 in 50 newborns were exposed to the virus'.

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

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They conclude that the findings "emphasize the importance of viral hepatitis surveillance to identify communities at risk for HCV and public health policies that make available interventions that prevent HCV transmission and disease". Hepatitis C is not only treatable, but curable now thanks to new medications. With the heroin epidemic, more people have turned to injecting drugs.

The report shows numbers of patients infected tripled from 2010 to 2015.

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

The report says Wisconsin's laws aren't as comprehensive as states such as Maine, Nevada and Utah, which have fewer barriers to needle exchange programs. About 75% of the 3.5 million Americans already living with hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965. Just as the opioid crisis is showing no signs of slowing down, Kenney Miller of the Health Equity Alliance says the rate of hepatitis C infections continue unabated.

The cause for this increase is attributed to the opioid epidemic, which affects rural parts of the country in particular.

Patrick agreed, noting that women who know they have the virus before pregnancy can be treated to hopefully clear the virus prior to becoming pregnant.

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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