CDC Report Focuses on Slowing Hepatitis C Infection Rate

MAY 16, 2017
Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor
Hepatitis C virus infection rates are the highest in 15 years, according to recent data released by the CDC.1 Preliminary surveillance data revealed that the number of new infections has nearly tripled over the past 5 years.
 
The CDC reported that new hepatitis C virus infections are increasing at rapid rates among young individuals, primarily 20-29 year olds, due to the growing opioid epidemic and prevalence of injection drug use. Additionally, other CDC studies have suggested the rising incidence of hepatitis C in women of childbearing age, indicating an increased risk for transmission among younger individuals.2
 
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends 5 strategies to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic and injection-related infectious diseases.
  1. Improve access to treatment and recovery services.
  2. Promote use of overdose-reversing drugs.
  3. Strengthen understanding of the opioid epidemic through better public health surveillance.
  4. Provide support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.
  5. Advance better practices for pain management.
 Employing comprehensive syringe services programs (SSP) is a common strategy designed to help communities prevent injection-related infectious diseases. The CDC published 2 recent analyses supporting expanded access to SSPs in communities.
 
The HHS recently released the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan 2017-2020. The updated plan outlines major goals, strategies, and indicators to help track progress in reducing hepatitis rates nationally.
 
“Stopping hepatitis C will eliminate an enormous disease and economic burden for all Americans,” John Ward MD, director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, said in a press release.2 “We have a cure for this disease and the tools to prevent new infections. Now we need a substantial, focused, and concerted national effort to implement the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and make effective prevention tools and curative treatment available to Americans in need.”
 
Reference
 
  1. CDC. Surveillance for viral hepatitis – United States, 2015. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/2015surveillance/commentary.htm. Accessed May 15, 2017.
  2.  New hepatitis C infections nearly tripled over 5 years [news release]. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p-hepatitis-c-infections-tripled.html. Accessed May 15, 2017. 


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