January 18, 2022

Lack Of Hepatitis Testing Creating An Issue As Cases Explode

As the US entered its sixth consecutive year of an all-time high Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) rate in 2019, several questions have been raised about why this has been happening. To make things worse, 2.5 million reported cases were that of the three most common STDs- gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. Does this mean that other STD infections are slowly going down? This isn’t the case. More people need to be tested for hepatitis to help isolate the issue.

Take, for instance, hepatitis. This viral infection, which is also transmitted by sexual intercourse, has undoubtedly been sidelined. According to a data by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was estimated that 2.4 million people live with hepatitis C in the US. Similarly, an estimated 850,000 people live with
hepatitis B in the country. Not surprisingly, the actual numbers are assumed to be higher than the estimated numbers.

In another report by the CDC in 2018, it was stated that the rate of hepatitis C infections has tripled since 2013. So, with such an increasing trend of this infection, it’s only fair that hepatitis testing should increase. However, there doesn’t seem to be concrete data to prove that.

Why Is Hepatitis Increasing?

According to the CDC, this infection is becoming more rapid among adults within the age groups of 20 and 29. In fact, the CDC has even gone on to state that hepatitis C is likely to kill more than people than other infectious diseases.

Hepatitis, which infects the liver, was seen more among Americans who were above the age of 55. Now that the age group of this infection has shifted, one can’t help but wonder why this is happening.

Health officials are of the opinion that this rising trend of hepatitis among baby boomers is due to the increased use of drugs. The reason is that this infection is caused mainly by contact with infected blood. So, sharing needles for injecting drugs or accidentally sticking the needle could be the primary reasons for this sudden uptick.

Once a person is infected with hepatitis, having oral or anal sex will allow for further transmission of the infection. Not only that, but hepatitis A can be spread when a person comes into direct contact with an infected person. With hepatitis being very contagious, it’s essential to curb its high rates. Although all types of hepatitis are treatable, there’s no saying as to what could go wrong if left untreated.

Need For More Hepatitis Tests

Hepatitis is one of the main causes of chronic liver disease. If a person were to be infected with this infection, it could lead to health risks like cirrhosis, primary hepatocellular carcinoma, and chronic hepatitis. Even though there is a cure for hepatitis, it should be known that its preventive measures are limited.

Having said that, it’s essential that Americans choose to get tested for hepatitis. As a matter of fact, the CDC recommends that people should get tested for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime. This silent infection, as it is called, can reside in a person’s body without them knowing it. It’ll only be years down the line that they get to know of it after all the damage has been done. This includes harm to their liver as well as transmitting the infection to their loved ones.

Although hepatitis cases may be rare in comparison to the other common STDs, this doesn’t mean that the infection is no longer valid. It very much exists in the US and is of grave concern. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2017, 91 deaths were reported in the US due to hepatitis A. the organization further estimated that the same infection was responsible for the death of as many as 7,134 people in the year 2016.

With hepatitis B being a more infectious disease than HIV/AIDS, it is the number one reason for causing liver cancer. With thousands of deaths every year in the US due to hepatitis B, it has been estimated that only 25% of people with this infection are diagnosed.

So, just because this infection is not among the common STDs, doesn’t mean that it’s not as infectious as the other infections and, sometimes, deadly. And now that there is a seemingly high rate of hepatitis in the US, the health officials, public, and lawmakers need to take matters into their own hands. Even though people receive education on safe sex, avoiding sharing of needles, and usage of drugs, it ultimately depends on how an individual responds to it. So, the public, too, should make it a point that they inculcate whatever they learn instead of pointing fingers.

For instance, when it comes to the act of engaging in sexual intercourse, partners should be able to talk freely about their health status. It’s always better to be on the safe side rather than regretting the decision later. Likewise, when it comes to drug use, parents should be able to monitor their children. With more young adults engaging in the usage of drugs, it has become widespread in the US. Therefore, it is essential to educate children about the health risks drugs can lead to from a young age.

At the end of the day, people who are 18 years and above and have engaged in sexual intercourse should get tested for hepatitis at least once. This way, if a person were to be tested positive, they can receive proper treatment and avoid further transmission of the infection. It’s time to put our old school of thought in the back of our minds and focus on a future where young lives don’t have to suffer at the expense of this infection. By avoiding getting tested for STDs like hepatitis due to shame or embarrassment, it might cost a life or more in the long run.

Therefore, it’s pertinent that more hepatitis testing are conducted. Only then will there be a possible curb in this infection and lesser death threats.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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