Needle exchanges can help stem the tide on hepatitis C infections.
Kentucky is no stranger to the hepatitis C virus.
In fact, the state had the highest rate of new hepatitis C infections in the nation from 2008 through 2015, according to the most recent data available from the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
Estimates from the agency indicate that more than 38,000 Kentuckians are currently infected with hepatitis C.
With 1,089 new cases reported from 2008 through 2015, the most per capita in the country, Kentucky outpaced other states by 15.1 percent.
The rise of infections correlates to the steady increase in intravenous drug use, with the highest rates occurring in the Appalachian region and northern Kentucky.
The contagious liver disease can cause liver cancer or cirrhosis, and is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood. It is often contracted by sharing needles or other equipment to inject illegal drugs, sexual contact with someone who has an STD or HIV infection, or getting a shot, tattoo or piercing when the needle has infected blood on it.
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