By Wayne Allen
Local officials are calling a recent drop in the Hepatitis C rate in Scioto County good news.
Information released from the Ohio Department of Health shows that Scioto County’s rate has dropped, but still remains higher than the state of Ohio’s average.
“You can see that we have quite a problem here, and have been the highest in the state for years. But the good news is that it took a dramatic downturn in the past few years,” said Lisa Roberts, public health nurse with the Portsmouth City Health Department. “This reduction in Scioto County can be attributed to several things including the availability of clean syringes through an exchange program and mass education of those who are engaging IV drug use as well in the increased availability of addiction treatment to people in need.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health the rate in Scioto County is 171.07 per 100,000 population, with the state average of 32.19 per 100,000 population in 2012. Roberts said though the chart shows 2012 data, it’s the latest information available.
“We had a big drop in Hepatitis C in 2012 and that was the year after we declared a public health emergency here. We started doing some major education with people and we started the syringe exchange program,” Roberts said. “We started getting people to learn about Hepatitis C, so if they already had it they did not spread it.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health Hepatitis C is a, “blood born disease most often spread from infected people to others through IV drug use and the practice of sharing needles. It can also be spread through drug-use behaviors such as sharing injection and snorting materials such as straws and cookers. There is no cure or vaccination for Hepatitis C therefore preventing infection is a top priority for Public Health Officials. Infected individuals often develop chronic life-threatening complications from Hepatitis C including liver cirrhosis and cancer and go on to infect others.”
Roberts said the effort made to educate the community about Hepatitis C and how it can be contracted or spread is evident with this new data.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.