Opioid Use Linked to Increased HCV


The incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) jumped nearly fourfold among people 30 or younger over a 7-year period in four central Appalachian states, the CDC is reporting. The rise was paralleled by increasing treatment admissions for opioid dependency with significantly more patients reporting injection drug use, according to an analysis in the May 8 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report…

To help understand the phenomenon, researchers from the CDC and the health departments of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia analyzed surveillance data for acute HCV cases as well as information about drug treatment admissions. All told, the analysis showed, there were some 1,377 cases of acute HCV infection reported to CDC from the four states over the 7-year period, with about 45% ages 30 or younger…

Taken together, the investigators argued, the data suggest “the increase in acute HCV infections in central Appalachia is highly correlated with the region’s epidemic of prescription opioid abuse.”

Perhaps the increase in acute HCV infections is highly correlated to poverty, and a lack of access to affordable and quality health care.  Or maybe drug abuse in this region is tied to the kind of pain these people live in because of the jobs they do, like working in a coal mine.  Could be that the chemicals from certain industries in that region are weakening people’s immune system, creating many more opportunities for infections.

Is the CDC now interested in reporting on correlations?  If so, why is this agency only concerned about correlations that have to do with drugs like opioids?  I don’t understand the purpose of reports like this, unless the CDC is now being staffed by the DEA.  But that’s ridiculous, right?

The investigators of the four-state HCV increase cautioned, however, that the study is ecologic in nature and can’t demonstrate a causal relationship between rising HCV infections and increasing injection drug use…

You know, if the CDC spent as much time reporting on the increase in suicide rates as it does on opioid abuse, maybe we could open up a discussion in this country that would save lives. Instead, the CDC is mainly concentrated on tying every public health problem to opioids — while ignoring everything else.

In January of this year, the CDC was reporting on how some women of reproductive age may be taking opioids, and how opioids can cause birth defects.  The same information was reported by the CDC in 2011:


“Despite evidence of adverse fetal effects with maternal codeine use and the paucity of data on the effects of maternal use of other opioids, such treatment is often assumed to be safe during pregnancy,” the study authors note…

Really?  Who would assume taking drugs during pregnancy was safe?  My goodness, pregnant women aren’t even supposed to have caffeine.  But if they break a bone or have a root canal, are they just supposed to suffer?  Is acute or chronic pain suffered by the mother supposed to be good for the fetus?

“It’s important to acknowledge that although there is an increased risk for some types of major birth defects from an exposure to opioid analgesics, that absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest,” principal investigator Cheryl S. Broussard, PhD, from the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a news release...

The first part of CDC reports always have the effect of screaming fire in a movie theater, but when you read all the way to the end, there’s actually no fire… there’s not even a movie playing.

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