hepatitis b

7 Numbers That Show The Fight Against Hepatitis Is Far From Over

3 Million

75 percent

The number of people with hepatitis C who were born between 1945 to 1965. Boomers are five times more likely to have the virus because this generation had higher rates of intravenous drug use during a time we didn’t know or understand very much about blood borne diseases. Another reason is that we didn’t start screening our blood supply for hepatitis C until 1989. Because of this, boomers should get tested for hepatitis C, says the Centers for Disease Control.

“A lot of people are getting older with their untreated hepatitis C infection… and a lot of people have cirrhosis,” said Kim. “If we continue not treating a lot of patients with this, we’re going to see a big wave of people showing up with more liver disease.”

17,000

The number of estimated new hepatitis C cases in the U.S. every year. At this point, the most common way to get the virus is through sharing needles with injection drug users. Health care workers and babies born to moms with hepatitis C are also at risk, as are the sexual partners of people who have the virus.

“We’re still seeing lots of new infection, particularly in young injected drug users,” said Kim. “If you’ve been injecting drugs and not being careful about not sharing, you’re very likely to get a hepatitis C infection.”

15 to 25 percent

The number of people who will “clear” hepatitis C from their systems without treatment, and without the risk of it coming back. What’s more likely, explains the CDC, is that the patient goes on to develop long-term hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

$100,000

The cost of a single round of treatment for Hepatitis C. The pills have to be taken for an average of 12 weeks, and each pill costs about $1,000. The cost for this newer, better generation of drugs (one has an effectiveness rate of over 95 percent), is wreaking havoc on the publicly-funded healthcare systems Medicare and Medicaid, causing the latter to restrict the treatment only to those who have advanced liver damage. Of course, the longer one goes without hepatitis C treatment, the higher the risks are for cirrhosis, which can develop into liver cancer, Kim says.

“From a medical standpoint, anyone who can get treatment should get treatment, but we’re dealing with the fact that we have this very costly medication,” Kim said. “The only way you can get your insurance to pay for it is if you have [cirrhosis] or kidney failure.”

15,000

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