By: Marcus J. Hopkins, Blogger
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released its 2016 Hepatitis B and C Annual Surveillance Report, indicating drastic increasing in new Chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) cases in the state, particularly among residents aged 18-29. Two factors posed significant roles in the transmission of these cases – Injection Drug Use (IDU) and Incarceration.
HEAL Blog has consistently reported on HCV transmission as a result of IDU and within incarceration settings, and report is further evidence of those positions. There were 11,883 new Chronic HCV cases reported in 2016 for a rate of 119.78 out of every 100,000 people. 69% of those cases were followed up on and epidemiological profiles were made; of those IDU was a risk factor in 64% of cases, while incarceration was a risk factor in 63% (MDHHS, 2017).
More striking, however, was the vast increase in Chronic HCV in people aged 18-29 between 2005-2016 – an alarming 473%, of which 84.2% were reportedly related to IDU in that same age group. This trend is replicated all over the country, especially in areas where prescription opioid and heroin abuse levels are more prevalent.
MDHHS reported that viral hepatitis-related hospitalizations, liver cancer incidence, liver transplants, and viral hepatitis deaths have all increased over the last decade, largely driven by the impact of Chronic HCV infections (Mack, 2017). With so many of these cases ostensibly linked to opioid and heroin abuse, a robust response to the addiction epidemics is needed, as well as compulsory “Opt-Out” screening at clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, and correctional settings.
The Lansing City Council recently voted to allow Syringe Services Programs (Syringe/Needle Exchanges), a proactive Harm Reduction measure that studies indicate reduces the rate of transmission amongst both People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDs), as well as the general population (Cook, 2017). Selling these programs to citizens who are unfamiliar with the programs, staunchly opposed to drug use, or believe that the exchanges encourage drug use remains a difficult proposition. Proponents argue that PWIDs are going to use drugs, regardless of whether or not there are exchanges; that being the case, it makes logical sense to prevent the spread of disease.
Michigan’s increase in Viral Hepatitis (VH) follows a national trend that will be replicated – possibly with farther reaching, deadlier impact – in other states.
- Cook, K. (2017, May 23). Lansing Becomes Next MI City With Needle Exchange Program. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University: WKAR Public Media. Retrieved from: http://wkar.org/post/lansing-becomes-next-mi-city-needle-exchange-program – stream/0
- Mack, J. (2017, August 03). Spike in Michigan Hepatitis C cases linked to opioid addiction. Lansing, MI: Michigan Live Media Group: Michigan News. Retrieved from: http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/08/spike_in_michigan_hepatitis_ca.html
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). 2016 Hepatitis B and C Annual Surveillance Report. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: Keeping Michigan Healthy: Chronic Diseases: Hepatitis. Retrieved from: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdhhs/Hepatitis_B_and_C_Annual_Report_2016_580095_7.pdf
Disclaimer: HEAL Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community Access National Network (CANN), but rather they provide a neutral platform whereby the author serves to promote open, honest discussion about Hepatitis-related issues and updates. Please note that the content of some of the HEAL Blogs might be graphic due to the nature of the issues being addressed in it.