How Do People Acquire Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C (HCV) is one of the more common chronic viral infections in the United States, thought to affect nearly four million Americans. Discovered less than 30 years ago, hepatitis C is passed via blood-to-blood contact. Before its discovery, there was no widespread screening of the blood supply, so infections were common among people who received blood and organ donations and among people who unknowingly came in contact with infected blood.
Today, however, modes of transmission have changed, and it's very rare for a person to be infected as part of a routine medical or dental procedure. Instead, most new infections are among young people who inject drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the opioid epidemic raging across the country, 30 states have reported more than a 200% increase in the number of new infections in recent years. The communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic -- including rural counties in the Appalachian states -- also report the highest numbers of new hepatitis C infections.
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