Doctors, Prison Administrators, Inmate Advocates Debate how to Handle Hepatitis C in Prisons
Health care experts, "budget-minded prison administrators" and inmate advocates are in disagreement over whether the fight against hepatitis C in prisons should focus on prevention or treatment strategies, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. CDC data show that 18% of inmates in U.S. prisons are infected with hepatitis C, compared with 1.6% of the general population. Hepatitis C develops slowly, and the drugs to treat the disease are expensive -- usually costing between $12,000 and $14,000 per person per year -- and have varying degrees of success, as they are not effective unless taken for six to 18 months. Many inmates are not offered treatment because they are up for parole or release before their treatment would end. Prison administrators and inmate advocates are debating whether all inmates should be tested for hepatitis C, as well as whether or when to give drug treatment to those who test positive. An increasing number of states are educating their inmates about hepatitis C and considering broader testing because of concerns that inmates with hepatitis could threaten public health after they were released, as well as the potential for class action lawsuits by inmates who did not receive treatment, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports (AP/Baltimore Sun, 9/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.