Syringe Exchange Program Aims To Slow Hepatitis C Infections In Alaska
Like many states, Alaska is struggling under the burden of opioid abuse.
Prescription painkillers and heroin accounted for 74 percent of Alaska's drug overdose deaths last year.
Transmission of blood-born viruses like hepatitis C, which can cause liver scarring, cancer, and death, is exploding, increasing in some rural areas by 490 percent in just the last few years. One calculation estimated that to treat all the Alaskans who contracted hepatitis C from injecting drugs in 2015 would cost $90 million.
This is driving up healthcare costs at a time when low oil prices have left the state in a years-long financial crisis. And public health officials think this is just the beginning of the epidemic and its fallout. One program is working to prevent the transmission and spread of the disease. [...]addiction infectious diseases public health