Virginia health official warns of hepatitis C ‘tidal wave’

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s top health official is warning that the state could soon face skyrocketing rates of hepatitis C and HIV due to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2fPf5W6 ) reports state health commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine said at a Virginia Board of Health meeting Thursday that opioid use is spurring on the two deadly infections. She predicted that a “tidal wave of hepatitis C” is coming.

A Virginia Department of Health report says cases of hepatitis C are rising in the state, with the primary infection risk being injection drug use. The infection can lead to liver disease.

Over 8,000 hepatitis C cases were reported last year, an increase of about 1,400 from 2014.

Since 2011, the number of new cases of HIV in Virginia has hovered around 1,000.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com

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