There is an Outbreak of Hepatitis C Virus among Millennials
Until recently, viral hepatitis was mainly common among boomers, but now millennials are also facing an outbreak of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), newly reported HCV infections increased 55 percent among men aged 20-29, from 2007 to 2015 and among women in the same age group, the increase was 37 percent. Many public health experts agree that the new cases are a result of an increase in injection drug use. There were nearly 2,000 opioid overdose deaths and over 4,000 hospitalizations for opioid overdoses in California in 2015. The CDPH stated,
Increasing disease in younger people is concerning because it reflects recent disease transmission, likely due to increases in opioid use and injection drug use. 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
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. According to Robert Lewis, director of special populations at the Family Health Centers of San Diego, screening has become even more important now that there is effective treatment. Testing efforts are crucial both to provide treatment and contain infection: many people who have hepatitis C aren’t aware of their diagnosis, particularly those members of at-risk populations who don’t have access to regular healthcare. Lewis also stated that one of the most effective ways of containing hepatitis C is through Syringe Service Programs. Hopefully the outbreak is contained and does not spread any further.