Hepatitis C Prevalence Increasing in Long Island, N.Y., Because of Crystal Methamphetamine Use
Hepatitis C prevalence is increasing in Long Island, N.Y., and could become a "greater threat" to public health than the emergence of HIV in the 1980s and 1990s, according to Jayne Green of the Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Long Island Newsday reports. Doctors, researchers, community advocates and people living with hepatitis C on Friday in Manhattan testified before members of two state Assembly committees to urge action on the issue. Health experts told the committees that the "recent wave" of hepatitis C infections can be linked to the "craze" of crystal methamphetamine use and shared needles during injection drug use, according to the Newsday. Although there are no "firm" statistics about hepatitis C prevalence in Long Island, Green said her agency is "seeing more cases," and the number of people co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV also is increasing, according to Newsday. Because of the increasing prevalence of hepatitis C, CDC predicts that within the next 10 years there will be a 279% increase in the incidence of liver damage in the United States, a 528% increase in the need for liver transplants and a 223% increase in the liver-related disease death rate. "This is just the start of a tidal wave that is going to hit in 2015 to 2020," Dr. Alain Litwin, an infectious disease expert at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said. Although hepatitis C can be treated, Green said that there "has been a problem with noncompliance," and experts predict that the number of hepatitis C cases might "overwhelm health systems and overload waiting lists for transplantable livers," according to Newsday (Ricks, Long Island Newsday, 1/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.