Hepatitis C Virus Infection related to Growing Opioid Epidemic

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that the national increase in acute Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection is strongly related to the nation’s opioid epidemic, specifically with increases in injections drug use (IDU).

This study examined the incidence of HCV infections reported from the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) across the US from 2004- 2014.  HCV infections were correlated to data reporting admissions to treatment facilities for intravenous opioid, heroin and POA drug abuse during the same time period.

The study showed an overall increase in reported cases of HCV in conjunction with an increase in reported treatment admissions for opioid injection. Across 15 states, an increase of 500% or higher was found in the number of cases with HCV infection, with 6 states showing and increase of 1000% or higher; only 7 states showed a decrease in reported cases over the 11 year period.

This trend is challenging current national efforts to reduce and eliminate Hepatitis B and C. Coordinated efforts among federal, state, and local health departments are required to implement comprehensive programs including needle exchange, HCV testing and curative medical treatment.

 

For a detailed look at the study, visit the American Public Health Association’s Journal at https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304132

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