LOUISA, Ky. -- As the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain the state's health care system, providers are concerned about another viral infectious disease spreading under the radar.
The hepatitis C virus damages the liver and can lead to liver cancer and death. It's transmitted through the blood, which is why it's prevalent among people who are intravenous drug users. Kentucky currently leads the nation in the number of hepatitis C infections, and ranks number two in the country for the number of infants exposed to the virus at birth.
Lynn Hill is a nurse practitioner in Lawerence County. She said COVID-19 is scaring patients away from getting treatment, so her hospital has adapted.
"So we adjusted things, we did telehealth; we were able to have the medication shipped to the patient's home," Hill said. "At our hospital, you can have bloodwork done from your car, so the patient doesn't have to go in and be worried about exposure."
Hill added that medications treating hepatitis C are effective and in most cases can rid the body of the virus within a few months. According to the latest data, it's estimated there are at least 42,000 Kentuckians living with hepatitis C.
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