AFP – May 11, 2017
Miami (AFP) – The number of hepatitis C infections have nearly tripled in the United States in the last five years, particularly among people in their 20s, researchers said Thursday.
The bloodborne virus is transmitted by injection drug use, dirty needles, blood transfusions and sex. Chronic infection can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis C is the top infectious disease killer in the nation, taking nearly 20,000 lives in 2015, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say the rise of the opioid epidemic, with increasing numbers of people sharing needles to inject heroin and prescription painkillers, is driving the increase in cases.
“New hepatitis C virus infections are increasing most rapidly among young people, with the highest overall number of new infections among 20- to 29-year-olds,” said a statement from the CDC.
“This is primarily a result of increasing injection drug use associated with America’s growing opioid epidemic.”