Breaking News
December 15, 2017 - For marketplace customers who delay, auto-enrollment could be nasty wake-up
December 15, 2017 - Researchers identify potential alternatives to tackle drug resistant malaria parasites
December 15, 2017 - Scientists unravel mystery of how immune cells remember infections decades later
December 15, 2017 - Outcomes Poorer for Black Patients with Early Breast Ca
December 15, 2017 - Liposuction May Ease Limb Swelling in Cancer Patients
December 15, 2017 - How well can digital assistants answer questions on sex?
December 15, 2017 - NIH-funded study to explore hearing loss risk in Detroit firefighters
December 15, 2017 - Caris Life Sciences reveals identification of new mechanism of action to treat NHL
December 15, 2017 - Loyola Medicine study finds high success rate for diabetic Charcot foot surgery
December 15, 2017 - Bone marrow edema does not increase due to intense physical activity, study finds
December 15, 2017 - Human ‘common cold’ virus kills healthy chimpanzees in Uganda
December 15, 2017 - Experience of reflex walking refines perception of biological motion during early infancy
December 15, 2017 - FDA Approves Admelog (insulin lispro) Rapid-Acting “Follow-On” Insulin Product to Treat Diabetes
December 14, 2017 - Friday Feedback: Good Idea for Ex-Pharma Exec to Run HHS?
December 14, 2017 - More than 200 people sickened onboard Ovation of Seas cruise
December 14, 2017 - FDA announces new approach for sharing updates on antibiotics, antifungal drugs to physicians
December 14, 2017 - Steroid study provides new insights into medicines’ side effects
December 14, 2017 - Government announces plans to include eye test reminder during driving license renewal
December 14, 2017 - Non-ionizing radiation from magnetic fields could have adverse biological impacts on health
December 14, 2017 - Bi-annual MRI beats mammograms in detecting breast cancer among women with genetic risk
December 14, 2017 - Researchers develop new method for quickly detecting signs of multiple sclerosis
December 14, 2017 - In era of increased competition, hospitals fret over ratings
December 14, 2017 - Female veterans experience improvement in low back pain with course of chiropractic care
December 14, 2017 - Relieving Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis with Exercise
December 14, 2017 - FDA Alert: Blue Pearl All Natural Male Enhancement Supplement: Recall
December 14, 2017 - CardioBrief: In Defense Of ORBITA
December 14, 2017 - Definition of High Blood Pressure Drops: MedlinePlus Health News
December 14, 2017 - Drug may help surgical patients stop opioids sooner
December 14, 2017 - Researchers develop biosensor that enables development of new health tests
December 14, 2017 - Radiation therapy can be used to treat patients with life-threatening heart rhythm
December 14, 2017 - UVA researchers developing tool to help prostate cancer patients weigh treatment options
December 14, 2017 - Experts tell Congress how to cut drug prices
December 14, 2017 - Researchers use cryptographic techniques to decode activity of motor neurons
December 14, 2017 - Study finds changes in the heart after spinal cord injury
December 14, 2017 - Health Highlights: Dec. 12, 2017
December 14, 2017 - Pelzman’s Picks: How States Can Cut Disparities in Care and Costs
December 14, 2017 - New Hemophilia Treatment Stems Bleeding Episodes: MedlinePlus Health News
December 14, 2017 - Onetime ‘world’s heaviest man’ has second surgery in Mexico
December 14, 2017 - Belgian researchers create transplantable artificial ovary prototype
December 14, 2017 - Using atraumatic needles for lumbar punctures decreases risk of complications
December 14, 2017 - Outpatient total knee replacement surgery linked to higher rates of complications
December 14, 2017 - Social impairments can be corrected by brain stimulation
December 14, 2017 - Studies reveal possibility for memory T cells to serve a dual purpose
December 14, 2017 - Antibody-Drug Conjugate Ups PFS in Untreated Hodgkin’s
December 14, 2017 - Study finds reading information aloud to yourself improves memory
December 14, 2017 - Researchers use RNA nanotechnology to program exosomes for delivering effective cancer therapies
December 14, 2017 - Living Lyme disease bacteria found months after antibiotic treatment
December 14, 2017 - These annual checkups help seniors not only survive but thrive
December 14, 2017 - Study reveals impact of diabetes during pregnancy on baby’s heart
December 14, 2017 - Hydraulic fracturing is harmful to infants health, study states
December 14, 2017 - Huntington’s disease drug clears initial hurdles
December 14, 2017 - TPU researchers create 3D-printed models of children’s hearts
December 14, 2017 - Brain responses of children with inherited dyslexia risk predict their future reading speed
December 14, 2017 - People diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may actually have treatable condition
December 14, 2017 - Study: New Furosemide Formulation Simplifies Administration for HF
December 14, 2017 - Discrimination harms your health—and your partner’s
December 14, 2017 - Having older brothers may increase the likelihood of being gay
December 14, 2017 - New scientific yardstick released to help early detection of Alzheimer’s disease
December 14, 2017 - New finding demonstrates what happens at cellular level during onset of type2 diabetes
December 14, 2017 - Study identifies potassium as key to circadian rhythms in red blood cells
December 14, 2017 - Good friends might be your best brain booster as you age
December 14, 2017 - NIH expected to award up to $70 million to launch Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Consortium
December 14, 2017 - Pitting pathogens against each other could prevent drug resistance emerging
December 14, 2017 - Study provides new insights into development of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma
December 14, 2017 - Dr. Reddy’s Announces Approval of Impoyz (clobetasol propionate) Cream for Plaque Psoriasis
December 14, 2017 - Gene Screens Can Alter Perception, Behavior
December 14, 2017 - Can Scrotal Vein Condition Hike Heart Risks?: MedlinePlus Health News
December 14, 2017 - Molecules in spit may be able to diagnose and predict length of concussions
December 14, 2017 - Children’s Colorado and RxRevu partner to help prescribers better meet needs of pediatric patients
December 14, 2017 - Researchers discover new way to attack drug-resistant prostate cancer cells
December 14, 2017 - Scientists develop new, high resolution method for identifying microbial species and strains
December 14, 2017 - Declining trend of salmonellosis cases has leveled off in the EU
December 14, 2017 - Death receptors in the blood can help measure risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes
December 14, 2017 - How to Perk Up the Holidays for Hospital Patients
December 14, 2017 - Prolonged Sedation May be Bad for Baby’s Brain
December 14, 2017 - The pediatric submersion score predicts children at low risk for injury following submersions
December 14, 2017 - Video game helps doctors to quickly recognize trauma patients who need high levels of care
December 14, 2017 - Younger persons newly-diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have poorer health than older patients
December 14, 2017 - Clinician re-examines evidence on re-use of catheters and UTIs in people with spinal cord injuries
December 14, 2017 - UK and Russian researchers join forces against AMR
Treating the new hep C generation on their turf

Treating the new hep C generation on their turf

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

She sets up in a stuffy office no bigger than a walk-in closet, just feet from a room where people who shoot heroin or methamphetamine drop off used needles and pick up clean ones. The needle exchange and Sylvestre’s makeshift clinic are under the same roof, part of a program run by the Mendocino County AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network.

Sylvestre comes here in part to treat young drug users, people who are often homeless or suffering from mental illness, many of them newly infected with hepatitis C. She doesn’t see many of them at a hepatitis C clinic she runs in Oakland.

“They are the ones who are spreading hepatitis C,” she said. “They’re the ones who have the high-risk behaviors.”

The opioid addiction crisis has engendered an unfortunate side effect — an epidemic of new hepatitis C infections, mainly among young people who share infected needles. Although people over age 52 still account for the largest share of chronic hepatitis C cases, the highest number of new infections occurs among people in their 20s.

From 2009 to 2015, the rate of acute hepatitis C cases in the United States roughly tripled among people in their 20s, and it more than doubled among people ages 30 to 39, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, newly reported cases shot up 55 percent among men in their 20s and 37 percent for women in that age range from 2007 to 2015, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said.

The wave of hepatitis C infections among young people is “cause for alarm,” said John Ward, the CDC’s viral hepatitis director. The agency is studying the best ways to treat this population, he said, adding that a new “front of attack” is needed. Health experts and doctors like Sylvestre say that battle may be best waged outside traditional health care settings, in places frequented by young drug users.

At the needle exchange in Ukiah, caseworkers give $7 Subway gift cards to people who agree to be tested for hepatitis C. Those who test positive can visit Sylvestre and try to qualify for expensive new medications that wipe out the virus. Drug users can also get help for their substance abuse.

Patient advocates say this kind of on-site treatment is an anomaly in California, where only a few needle exchanges offer such services.

Treating young drug users is not easy, Sylvestre said. Their lives are chaotic, which makes it difficult to start or continue their medication. “They’re frequently homeless; they have untreated mental illness,” she said. “They aren’t the most reliable people in the world.”

The surge in hepatitis C cases among young people doesn’t surprise 28-year-old Stephanie Clarizio of San Francisco. She injected heroin for about six years, starting in her home town of Atlanta. Clarizio said many of her friends who used intravenous drugs there knew about the risk of hepatitis C, and many of them contracted the virus.

“Everyone kind of knows about it,” Clarizio said. “You just don’t care.”

Clarizio had hepatitis C for a couple of years before she was cured in San Francisco while in rehab for heroin addiction.

Experts and government officials say they’re concerned about the surge among young people, who are more challenging to treat because many of them do not regularly see a doctor.

Many people who have been recently infected don’t experience symptoms of the viral disease. Left untreated, hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage or cancer later in life.

While the baby boomer generation, defined by the CDC as those people born between 1945 and 1965, still accounts for three-quarters of chronic cases, University of California-Berkeley epidemiologist Art Reingold suggests the public health response should target the newly infected population.

“The prevention opportunity is much greater” when treating the younger generation, Reingold explained. “If you’re working on a group that’s already got [75 percent] of the people infected, your opportunity to prevent new infections is much smaller.”

Dr. Heidi Bauer, chief of the sexually transmitted diseases control branch at the state Department of Public Health, said she encourages local health departments and community-based organizations to be creative about treating the younger population.

“We ask for people to think beyond that baby boomer box,” Bauer said. Public health organizations “can take their services on the road, so to speak, and they can make an extra effort to reach populations that may be more at risk.”

Dr. Sylvestre has been doing just that for more than a year. “If they’re not going to show up in our medical facilities, we need to go out where they are there,” she said.

Ashley Greene, a 29-year-old resident of Eureka, Calif., said treating young drug users for hepatitis C at needle exchanges is a good strategy. Greene recently recovered from the disease, which she said she contracted injecting cocaine as a teenager. She also used heroin on and off until 2011.

Greene feels much more energetic, clear-minded and optimistic about life since she was cured of hepatitis C, and she supports anything that educates young drug users about treatment, she said.

Not all will be ready for treatment, but at least “you can lead them to water,” she said.

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles