Despite a few years of good news with hepatitis C – with several new medications bringing cure rates up to 99% – there is also some bad news that must be acknowledged. Hepatitis C infection rates are actually rising in certain populations. The most at-risk population experiencing this hepatitis C spread is that of young, suburban drug users.
This disturbing trend was pointed out during a presentation at a recent national meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America by Dr. Ronald Nahass from ID Care (New Jersey’s largest infectious disease practice). Dr. Nahass and fellow researchers from Princeton House, which is a behavioral health unit of the University Medical Center at Princeton, conducted a study tracking the incidence of hepatitis C in suburban New Jersey.
Specifically, the study uncovered the following rising hepatitis C infection trend: of 861 patients admitted to the behavioral health unit of the University Medical Center at Princeton, 376 screened positive for hepatitis C infection. This equates to a shocking 44% of patients. Of these, 237, or 63%, were younger than 35. The researchers conclude that younger, suburban heroin users are fueling a second wave of hepatitis C infections.
The take-away here is this: although there is a cure available for the majority of hepatitis C infections, no one should let their guard down when it comes to hepatitis C exposure risks. This disease remains a public health concern, in terms of health dangers and, given the high costs of treatment, health care expenditures.
Press release. Study on incidence of hep C in suburban drug users. ID Care October 16, 2015.