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Hepatitis C & IV Drug Users

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This series was made possible through a fellowship from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Story

Hepatitis C: An Epidemic More Widespread than HIV

July 6, 2009 | By Kenny Goldberg

Nurse practitioner Lisa Richards and liver specialist Dr. Tarek Hassenein work with hepatitis C patients at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.

There's a chronic liver disease that's ten times more infectious than HIV, and more widespread. Hepatitis C is a virus that's spread through IV drug use, like HIV. Left untreated, hepatitis C can cause life-threatening complications, including liver cancer. In this first of a four-part series, KPBS Health Reporter Kenny Goldberg takes a look at the epidemic of hepatitis C.

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Clean Syringe Exchange Tries to Reduce Risky Behavior

July 7, 2009 | By Kenny Goldberg

San Diego’s mobile needle exchange operates out of a camper van in East Village on Thursday nights.

IV drug users are at high risk of spreading blood-borne diseases like hepatitis C and HIV. To combat this threat, the City of San Diego has a mobile clean syringe exchange program that operates twice a week.

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County Supervisors Say No to Clean Syringe Exchange

July 8, 2009 | By Kenny Goldberg

County Supervisors Say No to Clean Syringe Exchange

People who inject illegal drugs are at highest risk of spreading hepatitis C, HIV, and other blood-borne diseases. To reduce that threat, communities all across the country have launched clean syringe exchange programs. The City of San Diego allows a needle exchange to operate twice a week. In part three of a four part series, KPBS Health Reporter Kenny Goldberg explores why the County Board of Supervisors refuses to consider that option.

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Syringe Exchange Widespread in New York City

July 9, 2009 | By Kenny Goldberg

Syringe Exchange Widespread in New York City

New York City has more IV drug users than any other city in the U.S. To prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis C, it has a wide network of clean syringe exchange programs.

Photo
Reported cases of hepatitis c in San Diego County from 1998-2007.

Above: Reported cases of hepatitis c in San Diego County from 1998-2007.

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Quick Reference: Hepatitis C

July 6, 2009 |

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV infection sometimes results in an acute illness, but most often becomes a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. The form of transmission is contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Mary'

Mary | July 9, 2009 at 12:07 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

I am disappointed in the segment about Hepatitis C. While I understand that many people who have contracted the disease are IV drug users, many are not. You have spent most of the time talking about free needle exchange. (I am for that by the way but it should have a segment of it's own) I fear that will make many people feel they are not at risk. I would like to have heard more about the treatment, prognosis, symptoms and interviews of actual people who are going through the VERY difficult chemotherapy that lasts a whole year. I was so excited when I heard you were doing a week on Hepatitis C.There is practically nothing in the media about it. The public barely knows it exists and now they might think it is a disease for drug addicts. Would you want to tell anyone you were infected and have them think you are a drug addict? good grief

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