PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County’s Hepatitis cases as reported by the Portsmouth and Scioto County Health Departments have decreased dramatically in 2012 according to numbers recently released by the Ohio Department of Health.
“We’ve had a really drastic reduction in one year’s time, the reduction equates to about a 55 percent reduction,” said Lisa Roberts R.N./Public Health Nurse with the Portsmouth City Health Department.
She credited the majority of the decrease to the success of the syringe exchange program, Prevention Not Permission, being offered.
“By doing the syringe exchange program like we do, we meet them (the participants) where they are and we talk to them about safe practices and harm reduction,” Roberts said. “We also teach them not to share their needles with anyone else. We do this in an effort to prevent the spread of Hepatitis to others.”
According to Roberts, the syringe exchange program has given out more than 100,000 needles.
“We also teach people how to properly dispose of their needles and to bring them to the health department so we can properly dispose of them. When this is done, there are less needles laying around,” Roberts said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, Scioto County’s Hepatitis B rate in 2011 per 100,000 population was 41.51 with the state average at 12.02.
In 2012 Scioto County’s rate was 21.38 and the state average was 11.36 per 100,000 population.
When it comes to Hepatitis C, rates as reported by the Ohio Department of Health in 2011 Scioto County’s rate was 309.44 with the state rate at 51.95 per 100,000 population.
In 2012 Scioto County’s rate was 171.07 and the state average was 32.19 per 100,000 population.
“In addition to these numbers, our addiction rates are falling. All of the pills that were available on the street are less now. We have less people becoming addicted in the first place. Those people that are addicted, we have seen an increase for people getting treatment,” Roberts said.
In 2011, there were 132 Hepatitis C cases reported by Portsmouth and 162 by Scioto County, for a total of 294 cases.
Through May of 2012, there were 49 cases of Hepatits C by Portsmouth and 72 by Scioto County, for a total of 121 cases.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org