This is the headline in a recent press release (April 9, 2020) from the CDC concerning the continuing increase in new (acute) hepatitis C (HCV) infections in the United States. With COVID-19 at the forefront of the health news, it is important to continue our focus on other major health concerns in the U.S., like hepatitis C and HIV.
Here are some important bullets from the CDC Press Release:
New hepatitis C infections continue to increase:
- The rate of new hepatitis C infections reported to CDC in 2018 was four times as high as it was in 2009.
- CDC estimates there were about 50,300 new hepatitis C infections in 2018.
Dramatic increases in hepatitis C infections coincide with the opioid crisis:
- 2018 marked a decade of increases in new hepatitis C infections among people in their 20s and 30s, with injection drug use as the primary route of transmission.
Awareness of hepatitis C infection still lags:
- Only 61% of people with hepatitis C between 2015 and 2018 were aware of their infection.
Dr. Carolyn Wester, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis states, “Every case of liver failure and each death from this disease is a preventable tragedy. Our hope is that universal screening and increased access to treatment will significantly improve the health of millions of Americans who already have hepatitis C and also help to stop the epidemic of hepatitis C infections among all generations.”
You can read a great summary of these trends and find links to other pertinent data in a great article just published on the POZ.COM website.
Samaritan Ministry, in partnership with Helen Ross McNabb center, provides rapid finger-prick HIV and HCV testing in the Knoxville, TN area. While testing in the community is currently suspended, we are hopeful to be able to resume HCV testing in the near future.