Heroin epidemic pushing up hepatitis C infections in US

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"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", says Tim Jones, M.D., epidemiologist with the Tennessee Department of Health, in the statement.

And Iowa is not immune.

A new report released from the CDC highlights dramatic increases in cases of Hepatitis C nationwide and in is one of 7 states with her than average numbers.

Injection drug use is the main risk factor for the hepatitis C virus, now the country's most common blood-borne infection with an estimated 3.5 million people living with the chronic infection.

Confirmed cases of hepatitis C increased around the United States from 850 in 2010 to 2,436 in 2015 - about a 286 percent increase.

New medicines can cure hepatitis C in as little as two to three months, but many people who need treatment can't get it, according to the CDC.

States that have struggled most with the unfolding opioid crisis also tended to have worst rates of new Hepatitis C infections.

The highest number of new infections were reported among 20- to 29-year-olds.

"We are in a place that's been pretty needle exchange positive for the last couple of years now", said Scott Stokes, director of prevention services at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

There are believed to be between 2.7 million and 3.9 million people in the USA 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.

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs, according to the CDC. But they are expensive - a course of treatment can costs tens of thousands of dollars.

In the US, the CDC estimated 3.5 million people living with hepatitis C infection. The number hasn't changed much recently but that figure reflects a different group of infected people - baby boomers.

In one West Virginia county, one out of every 50 births involved a woman who tested positive for hepatitis C, Patrick said.

Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead author on the study and a neonatoloigst at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the study findings point to an "emerging public health issue".

Hepatitis C increases in mothers and newborns "are just part of a bigger trend", Meyer said. If you have the disease and need help, you can contact the Bellflower clinic.

Sarah Ziegenhorn, of Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition in Iowa City, is trying to respond to the uptick in an unusual way.

Between 2 million to 4 million people in the USA have hepatitis C, Skorney said. West Virginia had the highest rate of infection in 2014 coming in at 22.6 instances per 1,000 live births.

Before widespread screening of blood donations began in 1992, the virus was also spread through blood transfusions. This is primarily a result of increasing injection drug use associated with America's growing opioid epidemic. Russell Glass is a recovering addict who's been diagnosed with hepatitis C before.

WEBVTT As an infectious diseasephysician, Doctor Ravi Vemuri has witnessed the heroepidemic first hand.

For those that do, don't share the needles.

With treatment for hepatitis C, there must also be counseling to get these patients into care for their addiction to avoid an "exercise in futility" by treating only "a effect of the substance use disorder." according to Chung.

"That's one of the things we are seeing more commonly in drug use or our drug related deaths". CBS News reports that those statistics are the equivalent of 35 infants being exposed to the virus per day. 01;22-25 Dr. Ravi Vemuri/Infectious Disease Physician "they've been screenedand found to be Hep C positive".

However, it is not only drug users that can be infected.