Hepatitis C is a silent killer, and it has a new target: pregnant women. In just five years, the number of new hepatitis C infections nearly doubled among pregnant women. At blame most likely is the opioid epidemic.
The steep increase in infections occurred between 2009 and 2014, according to a new study from the Tennessee Department of Health that was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rural areas such as Appalachia were among the hardest hit, and that corresponds with where the epidemics of heroin and prescription drug addiction are occurring.
An estimated 3.5 million people are living with hepatitis C, making it the country’s most common blood-borne infection. Injection drug use is the main risk factor for hepatitis C infection.