You’ve likely heard of hepatitis C, a disease intravenous drug users have contracted from using needles unsafely. But hepatitis is much more complex.
As local and national headlines focus on the opioid crisis and the deaths related to the epidemic, there is an overlooked and devastating virus spread in correlation with opioid abuse and injection drug users, especially in the Appalachia region.
Hepatitis C is a virus transmitted via the blood of the infected individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted by injection drug use.
Many of the new cases of hepatitis C in Appalachia are individuals younger than 30 years who report intravenous drug use and opioid dependency. Initiatives to reduce transmission of the virus, such as required screenings, need to be a priority for Tennessee.
Hepatitis C is often called a “silent killer.” There are very few symptoms associated with the virus until long-term complications emerge such as liver cancer or cirrhosis.
Persons infected with the virus, unaware of their status, unknowingly transmit the virus. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, more than 100,000 individuals may be living with the virus in Tennessee.
Acute cases of hepatitis C doubled from 2011 to 2015 in Tennessee based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthcare costs for individuals diagnosed with the virus are rising and will continue to rise as more individuals are infected with the virus.
According to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, the cost of hepatitis C in American in 2015 increased to $21 billion.
TO CONTINUE READING: http://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/12/11/hepatitis-c-health-crisis-opioid-tennessee/907512001/