Millennials haven’t inherited the best batch of goods from baby boomers. They got a housing crisis, a shaky job market, and some enormous student loans.
But until recently, viral hepatitis was the burden of boomers alone to bear. Now, millennials are also facing an outbreak of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
There were nearly 2,000 opioid overdose deaths and over 4,000 hospitalizations for opioid overdoses in California in 2015
With existing money tight and future funding uncertain to test and treat hepatitis, the observed increase could be just the tip of the iceberg.
California’s Department of Public Health says newly reported HCV infections increased 55 percent among men aged 20-to-29, from 2007 to 2015. Among women in the same age group the increase was 37 percent.
Viral hepatitis is often thought of as a disease of baby boomers. Since Hepatitis C wasn’t screened out of the blood supply until 1992, it’s been mostly older populations who are affected.
But California is now seeing a spike in new HCV infections in millennials. With existing money tight and future funding uncertain to test and treat hepatitis, the observed increase could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Many public health experts agree that the new cases are a result of an increase in injection drug use.
“Increasing disease in younger people is concerning because it reflects recent disease transmission, likely due to increases in opioid use and injection drug use,” the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) told Capitol Weekly in an email.
Statewide, the rate is 4.73 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. In some rural counties, the rate is much higher.
California isn’t alone.
According to research published by the Centers for Disease Control, in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, the populations newly infected with HCV are strongly linked to those affected by the opioid crisis: mostly young, white men in rural areas.
“Although drug overdose mortality in California has not increased as dramatically as in other states in recent years, in 2015, 18 counties had an opioid overdose mortality rate at least 50% higher than the statewide average,” CDPH said.
Statewide, the rate is 4.73 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. In some rural counties, the rate is much higher: Tuolumne and Humboldt had rates as high as 24.69 and 13.76, respectively.
This recent increase in the use of first prescription opioid painkillers and now cheaper and more attainable opioids like heroin has grabbed the nation’s attention.
In 2015, the state Legislature disbursed a $2.2 million, three-year grant for pilot projects to address increasing HCV infections.
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