Note: We are very interested in partnering with a non-profit organization to conduct a Train-the-Trainer workshop in KY. If you know of an organization or if your organization is interested please contact me at email@example.com to discuss – Alan for www.hcvadvocate.org
“Growing intravenous drug use by people sharing syringes to inject heroin and other substances” has helped make Kentucky a national hotbed for cases of hepatitis C, “which ultimately could mean a staggering cost to taxpayers to treat people with the disease,” Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“Giving addicts clean needles can help stem the spread of the disease, but many Kentucky counties considered at greatest risk for an outbreak have not approved such programs,” Estep notes. His story has a map of syringe exchanges and the Kentucky counties that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers most at risk for an outbreak of HIV or hepatitis C due to IV drug use. Of the 220 counties identified, Kentucky has 54, almost half its total number of counties.
“The programs have only been legal in Kentucky since 2015, when the legislature authorized them in the face of mounting IV drug use,” Estep notes. Now there are 33, nine of which are not in operation yet. They are run by local health departments with approval of the county fiscal court and the city where the exchange is located.
Across the state of Kentucky and here in Madison County, government officials and community members have mixed feelings about needle-exchange programs. And rightfully so.
At its core, the programs allow people to exchange dirty needles for clean ones to cut down on needle-sharing among drug users. However, many people, including government officials, believe the exchanges encourage and enable drug abuse, which health officials say is not so.
Note: I wish I could edit articles! The reference to tattooing and sexual transmission needs further defining. Tattooing in an unsafe setting is a risk factor for acquiring hepatitis C. The risk of sexual transmission in people who are in a stable long-term monogamous relationship is rare. There have been outbreaks of acute hepatitis C among HIV-positive men who have sex with men. A link to our HCSP Fact Sheet: Overview of HCV Transmission and Prevention.
Widespread drug abuse led hepatitis C diagnoses among young women to rise nearly 10 times faster in Kentucky than nationally in recent years, while the proportion of babies born to infected moms surged to one in 63.
“Kentucky is experiencing the ravages of a hepatitis C epidemic that has been going on for years now,” said Dr. John Ward, director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis and a senior author on the study. “And the state is not alone in having a large epidemic of hepatitis C,” an infectious, viral liver disease. “We are concerned other states have this problem, too.”
Kentucky had the highest increase in the nation in the rate of hepatitis C infections among women ages 15-44 in recent years, according to a new federal report that offers further evidence of growing problems in the state from intravenous drug use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the report this week on the rise in hepatitis C cases across the U.S. and in Kentucky.
Nationwide, the rate of women of childbearing age — defined as 15 through 44 — who tested positive for hepatitis C increased by 22 percent between 2011 and 2014, the year with the latest data, the CDC said.