gathered in Los Angeles recently to discuss the
failures--in fighting the spread of hepatitis C,
California's KPCC News radio reports. Stephen Simon,
AIDS coordinator for the city of Los Angeles, said
county officials, the state of California, and the
federal government all are falling far short in their
efforts to combat the blood-borne disease, which can
be spread through certain sexual practices and is a
common coinfection among HIV patients.
As many as
650,000 Californians carry the hepatitis C virus;
nationwide, there are an estimated 5 million HCV
cases. Some researchers have estimated that up to 25%
of HIV patients are also coinfected with HCV, with the
coinfection rate rising to as high as 50% of all
HIV-positive injection-drug users. A study in the
American Journal of Public Health says that
if health leaders don't make significant
strides in crafting HCV education and prevention programs,
there could be nearly 200,000 U.S. deaths from the disease
by 2019 and nearly $11 billion in health care costs.
Among the topics
discussed at the Los Angeles summit were providing
hepatitis treatment to prisoners, reaching the homeless with
HCV awareness and prevention outreach, and helping to
prevent infections among injection-drug users, who
often put themselves at high risk for the blood-borne
disease by sharing needles.
gay men are at a high risk for contracting hepatitis and
are urged to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. There
currently is no vaccine for hepatitis C.