BOSTON (April 27, 2017)–An innovative analysis combining geographic information systems (GIS), spatial epidemiology, and statistical modeling identified three hotspot clusters of hepatitis C infection rates in Massachusetts. The study, published in BMC Infectious Disease, found that areas around Boston, New Bedford, and Springfield had the most significant clusters of hepatitis C infection based on rates per 100,000 people.
Hepatitis C (HCV) hotspot clusters based on the number of reported cases were also identified. As expected, these included some of the most populated areas in Massachusetts: the Greater Boston area, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, New Bedford, Fall River, but also in the smaller cities of Lawrence, Holyoke and Fitchburg. In these areas, results of density analyses indicate that there were between 477 to 1,070 hepatitis C cases per square mile.
“We are in the middle of a syndemic,” said public health epidemiologist Tom Stopka, Ph.D., M.H.S., lead study author. “The opioid epidemic is intertwined with the hepatitis C epidemic. These two operate symbiotically and create a larger burden on society and our healthcare system. The areas with higher rates of infection can also become areas of risk for higher hepatitis C transmission. Our study identifies and characterizes locations in Massachusetts where prevention and treatment interventions for hepatitis C might have the biggest effect in reducing the burden of disease.”
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