LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– As the number of hepatitis A cases across the state appears to be leveling off, a new problem has presented itself, hepatitis C.
New hepatitis C cases from intravenous drug use are now roughly tripling those of new HIV cases from the same source. State and county health department officials can attribute that to Kentucky’s opioid crisis.
Kentucky and West Virginia are leading America when it comes to new hepatitis C cases, and if left untreated, hepatitis C can be fatal.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said that this isn’t just a problem for people experiencing homelessness or poverty. Officials there said they can cite many examples of people who lost access to their pain meds and started intravenous drugs to get through the day.
“Because the government pulled back on the pain pills, and closed down the pain clinics, and that forced people into injecting heroin, and other drugs they could find on the street,” said John Moses, the coordinator of the needle exchange program.
Moses added that because drug abuse has been so prevalent in the Baby Boomer generation, anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should get tested.
The CDC says that symptoms of hepatitis C include, fever, fatigue, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, jaundice