Six Percent of Ohio Prison Inmates Test Positive for Hepatitis C
According to Ohio prison statistics, 2,597 inmates in the state have hepatitis C infection, but based on national estimates from the CDC, the actual number could be closer to 20% of the state's 45,216 inmates, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Only 16 of the 2,597 Ohio inmates with hepatitis C receive treatment, which can cost up to $25,000 per person each year. In accordance with CDC recommendations, Ohio prisons conduct hepatitis C testing only for inmates who report risk factors, such as a history of injection drug use, or for inmates who specifically request the test. Reginald Wilkinson, Ohio's director of prisons, said that he expects the number of inmates with hepatitis C and the cost of treating them will increase "dramatically" in the future. Hepatitis C testing and treatment will cost Ohio $3.9 million this year, a little more than 3% of the total systemwide medical budget of $118.4 million. Paul Eyre of CURE, an inmate advocacy group, said that hepatitis C is becoming an increasing problem for former prisoners and their families, according to the Dispatch. He added, "They need to test everybody. They need to treat it because these people are coming out infected. That's a public-health issue" (Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, 7/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.