Hepatitis C and the Opioid Epidemic


Andrea L. Cox, MD, PhD, compares the rates of hepatitis C and hepatitis B diagnoses since the start of the opioid epidemic.

Segment Description: Andrea L. Cox, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, discusses the increase in hepatitis C diagnoses since the start of the opioid epidemic.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

Cox: Hepatitis C is a very important global pathogen. In addition, we're having significant difficulty in North America with rising rates of hepatitis C virus infections since the opioid epidemic began. Specifically, in 2010, when the opioid epidemic began, we were seeing about 10,000 new cases of hepatitis C annually. And since that time, we've now had a marked increase, and we're seeing closer to 50,000 new cases every year.

In contrast, hepatitis B, which is a vaccine preventable illness, the rates of that infection, which is also a blood borne pathogen, have been very stable.

I think this highlights the ability to prevent increases in infections for which we have effective vaccines, in the midst of an epidemic for which we don't have a vaccine.

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